Key Criminal Justice Policies in 2020
The Sentencing Project
Jan 15, 2021


Formerly incarcerated activists, lawmakers, and advocates achieved important changes in criminal justice policy last year to reduce mass incarceration, expand voting rights and advance racial justice. Top Trends in Criminal Justice Reform, 2020, by Nicole D. Porter describes these key changes.

Highlights include:

Pandemic Prison Releases: A new law designed to preempt the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey prisons resulted in the early release of a reported  2,258 persons when the law went into effect.

Sentencing: Washington, DC authorized individuals who committed an offense before age 25 and who have served 15 years in prison to petition for a sentence modification.

Racial Disparity: California allowed individuals charged with or convicted of a crime to challenge their sentence with evidence that discriminatory practices influenced the prosecution of their case, including racial animus.

Felony Disenfranchisement: Washington, DC authorized voting by persons in prison with a felony conviction.

Youth Justice: Ohio’s legislature passed legislation to end juvenile life without parole for persons under age 18 at the time of their offense.

The full briefing paper, which includes details on the authorized legislation, can be found online here.


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