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Success in Criminal Legal Reforms, 2021

“Formerly incarcerated activists, lawmakers, and advocates achieved important changes in criminal justice policy this year to reduce mass incarceration, expand voting rights and advance racial justice. Success in Criminal Legal Reforms, 2021, by Nicole D. Porter, describes these key changes:

  • Sentencing: Several states addressed extreme sentencing. Two states — Colorado and Illinois — addressed felony murder statutes for cases when individuals did not directly cause the death of another person. Washington state policymakers established a “second look” resentencing policy for certain robbery offenses. Virginia lawmakers abolished the death penalty.
  • Racial Disparity: Three states — Maine, Maryland, and Virginia — enacted racial impact statement policies to forecast potential racial disparity on proposed sentencing laws.
  • Probation and Parole: Two states — New York and Virginia — limited returns to incarceration for parole and probation violations.
  • Felony Disenfranchisement: Three states — Connecticut, New York, and Washington — restored voting rights to persons on community supervision with felony convictions.
  • Youth Justice: Eight states — Alaska, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah — adopted legislation to remove youth charged as adults from jails and prisons to comply with the federal Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act.
  • The full briefing paper, which includes details on the authorized legislation, can be found online here.”

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