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December 16, 2019

Copy Of - Fair Chance Act offers opportunity for ex-offenders

The Fair Chance Act has passed in the House as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill codifies President Obama’s 2015 “ban the box” rule, which removed the criminal history question from job applications.


The Fair Chance Act would apply to job applications in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of federal government and extend to individual contractors working on government grants within private companies. It is important to note that the law does not stop employers from inquiring about criminal history, it simply prohibits them from doing so until the conditional offer stage. It also includes important exceptions for positions in law enforcement and national security, as well as those trusted with classified information.

November 18, 2019

Nearly half of all probation and parole sentences in Kentucky result in incarceration

Kentucky’s expanding prison population has been a source of conversation and policy debate for years now, but probation and parole—two of the largest channels into the prison system—have largely been absent from these conversations.  


Kentucky’s recidivism rate, the rate at which people return to prison, was 32.2 percent in 2016. That equates to about 6,000 potential recidivists from the 18,640 released prisoners in 2016.  During the same year, 52 percent of people on parole, or 6,210 individuals, ended parole by being incarcerated. Similarly, 40 percent of those exiting probation, or 7,175 individuals, entered prison. In sum, more than 13,000 people entered prison from community supervision in 2016. This number is more than double the number of prisoners returning to prison, or the cohort we use to calculate recidivism. If recidivism numbers are important because they numerically represent the successes or failures of supervision, then those entering prison from parole or probation must be included. Despite this, Kentucky’s reform efforts continue to focus primarily on prison recidivism as the primary target of reform and spending. In fact, our prison system receives 6 times as much funding as probation and parole.

December 15, 2016

Criminal Justice Reform Debate Needs Honest Discussion On Policing

There are few things the political left and right in America agree on. Criminal justice reform, however, is one area where these opposing spectrums have found common ground.

Lawmakers of varying political stripes around the country are experiencing an awakening around criminal justice reform. Nationwide, more than 30 states have realized that a different approach to sentencing and corrections is needed to rehabilitate offenders, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayer money. 

While worthwhile and long overdue, these reforms are reactive approaches that touch only one aspect of the criminal justice system. Absent from the criminal justice reform movement, especially on the national level, has been any real attempts to critically examine the state of policing. 


Until now.

Oklahoma Governor Signs Promising Criminal Justice Reforms

Erinn Broadus
May 4, 2016, 3:26pm

Last week, Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, signed four criminal justice bills aimed at reducing the prison population without compromising public safety. “Our state prisons are filled to well over capacity, so it is crucial that we make some changes to our criminal justice system” explained Fallin. The content within these bills came from recommendations from those within the criminal justice field, including judges, district attorneys and public defenders.

Georgia Governor Signs Additional Criminal Justice Reforms

Erinn Broadus
May 12, 2016, 5:21pm

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal recently signed SB 367 into law, which builds upon the series of criminal justice reforms that have been enacted in the state over the past several years.  Speaking to the bill, Governor Deal said, “The incentives included in this legislation are cost-effective strategies that will increase the number of former offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families.”

The bill does 

Iowa Takes First Steps Toward Criminal Justice Reform

Erinn Broadus
May 18, 2016, 5:18pm

Last week, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed several criminal justice reforms into law. House File 2064 loosened sentencing requirements for some nonviolent drug offenders, while increasing penalties for child endangerment crimes.

House File 2064 does the following:

  • Allows the parole board to release nonviolent drug offenders who have served at least half of their sentence.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Approves Changes to Compassionate Release Guidelines

Erinn Broadus
April 19, 2016, 5:14pm

Last week, the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) expanded the guidelines that the Federal Bureau of Prisons uses to determine if elderly inmates are eligible for early release, otherwise known as compassionate release. Previously, prisoners were eligible if certain “extraordinary and compelling” reasons existed for their release. The amended changes broaden what is considered “extraordinary and compelling” and group them into four categories: medical conditions, age, family circumstances, and other:

Louisiana Man Faces 20 Years in Prison for Stealing Candy

Erinn Broadus
April 8, 2016, 9:00am

This week, Jacobia Grimes was charged with stealing $31 worth of candy and is facing 20 years in prison for the infraction. This excessive sentence is a product of Louisiana’s notoriously harsh habitual offender law, one of its many mandatory minimum sentencing schemes. In Grimes’ case, he has three prior nonviolent felonies on his record, bumping his would-be misdemeanor charge to a felony and making him eligible for a discretionary 20-year life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Indiana Governor Reinstates Failed Mandatory Minimum Law

Erinn Broadus
March 25, 2016, 3:53pm

This week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a bill that reinstates the requirement that anyone convicted of selling certain controlled substances, such as heroin and methamphetamine, to a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison if they have previously been convicted of the same charge. Speaking to the new law, Governor Pence said, “Drug abuse problems are not unique to our state, but I’m determined to meet this challenge head-on here in Indiana.”

Federal Prisoner Recidivism Report Indicates High Return Rate

Erinn Broadus
March 11, 2016, 5:00pm

This week, the United States Sentencing Commission released its newest reportwith the results of an eight-year study on recidivism. Chief Judge Patti B. Saris, Chair of the Commission, commented, “The study is groundbreaking in both its breadth—studying all 25,431 U.S. citizen federal offenders released in 2005, and in its duration—following the releasees over an eight-year period.”

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