California a leader in number of youths in prison for life
Crack cocaine sentence cut is stalled by retroactivity
NPR: Should Sentencing Reform Be Retroactive? [Real Player]
Unlocking America [pdf]
Bureau of Justice Statistics [pdf]
Within the vast world of pressing policy problems, system-wide prison reform in the United States has been a subject that has vexed even the most dedicated experts and committed activists. Over the past four decades, the prison population has risen eight-fold, and people have laid the blame on everything from mandatory sentencing laws to economic restructuring in America's manufacturing regions. This week, the JFA Institute released a report which contains a number of thoughtful policy recommendations which have generated comments from criminologists, politicians, and judges. Some of these findings may prove to be controversial, as they include recommendations for shorter sentences, and alternative punishments. The long-term effects of the current sentencing guidelines may have a deleterious effect on certain communities, as the report notes: "The massive incarceration of young male from mostly poor-and working-class neighborhoods, and the taking of women from their families and jobs, has crippled their potential for forming healthy families and achieving economic gains."
The first link will take users to an article from this Monday's Macon Daily which discusses the release of the report from the JFA Institute. The second link leads to a nice piece of reporting from the Los Angeles Times on California juveniles sentenced to life in prison. In terms of thinking about sentencing reform, the third link offers some interesting commentary from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine. The fourth link provides an additional perspective on changing sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenders via an interview with Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. The fifth link will take visitors to the complete text of the recent report published by the JFA Institute. The final link will take visitors to the Bureau of Justice Statistics site. Here, visitors can browse through hundreds of crime datasets and read press releases.