A report from the Sentencing Project examines reforms adopted in 17 states targeted at reducing prison populations and addressing collateral consequences for persons with criminal convictions.
Amongst the highlights: In Maryland, House Bill 1312 repealed mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, established graduated sanctions short of reimprisonment for parole and probation violators, and increased prison credits for completion of educational programs. In Oklahoma, voters passed State Question 780 (by 57%), which reclassified drug possession and low level property offenses to misdemeanors instead of felonies, and State Question 781, which allows counties to use money saved from sending fewer people to prison under SQ 780 to fund community rehabilitation programs.
And Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia addressed felony disenfranchisement. Nationally, 6.1 million persons are disenfranchised from voting due to felony convictions. Since 1997, 23 states have changed laws improving enfranchisement policies for persons with felony convictions. Last year in Delaware Senate Bill 242mandates that individuals no longer have to pay off their fines and fees in order to vote. In Maryland lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto of House Bill 980 and authorized voting for an estimated 40,000 people on probation or parole. In Virginia Governor McAuliffe issued executive orders restoring voting rights to 70,000 persons.