Second Chances Resource Library

The Second Chances Resource Library contains resources related to expanding release opportunities
for people in prison who are serving long sentences or have other circumstances warranting release

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Found 310 resources
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PDF Recidivism and Other Outcome Data for People Serving Life or Long Sentences Who have Received Second Chances

Organization/Publisher:FAMM

This is a compilation of published findings regarding recidivism and other outcomes for people serving life or long sentences who have received second chances.

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PDF Sentencing Reform in Washington State: Progress and Pitfalls

Organization/Publisher:University of Washington
Author:Katherine Beckett and Allison Goldberg

The Washington State Supreme Court and the Washington State Legislature have created some new opportunities for some prisoners serving long and life sentences to have their sentence and releasability (re)considered. The implementation of these reforms has led to the release of hundreds of people, some of whom expected to die behind bars. This report provides an inventory of the progress that has been made — as well as the work that remains to be done to ensure that the harm caused by excessive sentencing is comprehensively remedied in Washington State. The findings include:

  • Many people who are serving long and life sentences have been denied a second look for
    arbitrary reasons.
  • As of the end of 2022, an estimated 637 people have become potentially eligible for review  because of these recent reforms. An estimated 286 have been released from prison after serving many years behind bars ( a tiny fraction of nearly 7,000 people currently serving a sentence of ten years or longer).
  • The recidivism rate among people who returned home after receiving a very long or life sentence for a crime they committed as a juvenile and who subsequently became eligible for a “second look” after serving twenty or more years is remarkably low. Just two of 98 people (2.1 percent) who became eligible for review because they committed their crime as a juvenile who have returned to the community have been convicted of a new felony crime. Another five (5.2 percent) have had their parole revoked and were returned to prison for technical violations (as opposed to new criminal violations).
  • People who were released through second look processes after serving decades behind bars contribute importantly to their families and communities upon release from prison.
  • The trauma of long-term incarceration continues to pose important challenge even for people who are employed, housed, and connected with loved ones.
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PDF The Juvenile Restoration Act Year One — October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022

Organization/Publisher:Maryland Office of the Public Defender
Author:Brian Saccenti & Taylor White

Effective October 1, 2021, the Maryland Juvenile Restoration Act permits people who have served at least 20 years of a sentence for a crime that occurred when they were under the age of 18 to file a motion for reduction of sentence. This report documents the progress that has been made implementing the Act and its successes over the first year.

Consistent with what the research predicts and the legislature intended, courts in the first year since the Act took effect have reduced sentences and released people in the majority of cases decided. Twenty-four people who sought sentence reductions were released within the first year that the act was in effect. As of October 2022, none had been charged with a new crime or found to have violated probation.

The first year of the Juvenile Restoration Act shows that, with an available court mechanism and robust re-entry planning and support services, many individuals who have served long sentences can be safely released. The General Assembly should expand on the success of the JRA by expanding eligibility for sentence reduction consideration to people who were emerging adults (18 to 25 year olds) at the time of the crime and older prisoners who have similarly served long prison terms. Funds should also be invested in implementing these recommendations and encouraging reliance on community based services where incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety.

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PDF State Clemency Resources: Alabama

Organization/Publisher:FAMM

FAMM’s “Clemency Resources by State” documents provide information about eligibility criteria, the application process, the decision-maker(s), and constitutional and statutory authority for each form of clemency available in the state. Alabama offers the following form(s) of clemency: pardons, parole, and„ restoration of voting rights.

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PDF Toward a Cage-Free Maine: A Restorative Pathway Toward Decarceration and Abolition

Organization/Publisher:The Bollard
Author:Leo Hylton and Catherine Besteman

First appearing as a three part series in the alternative Maine-based newspaper The Bollard, this extended essay lays out an argument for how to stop the flow of people into the carceral system (through investing in community infrastructure and well-being, utilizing restorative justice processes to respond to harm, and more), how to transform the criminal legal system to open pathways for second chances legislation and earlier avenues for release, how to transform the culture inside prisons to prepare people to return to their communities as soon as possible (through enabling and supporting communication with loved ones on the outside, allowing employment at free world wages, eradicating punitive carceral culture, and more), and how to build a restorative and supported pathway to reentry. The focus is Maine, but the basic argument holds for any state. A top priority in the middle section is confronting the impact of extreme sentences and LWOP sentences by prioritizing second chance legislation and policies for supported early release.

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PDF Responding to Crimes of a Sexual Nature: What We Really Want is No More Victims

Organization/Publisher:The Sentencing Project
Author:Kristen M. Budd, Ph.D., Sabrina Pearce and Niki Monazzam

Report examines misconceptions around crimes of a sexual nature that contribute to the rise in imprisonment rates and the lengthening of sentences, and offers recommendations for reform.

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PDF The Case for Second Chances: A Pathway to Decarceration in Maine

Organization/Publisher:Maine Law Review
Author:Catherine Besteman and Leo Hylton

The Article argues that Maine incarcerates too many people, for too long, for too many things, at too great of an expense. We offer evidence to support this claim, briefly review some of the criminal legal legislation that shaped our present reality, and show how recent efforts at reform have been, at best, only modestly successful. In concert with a growing number of expert voices across the country calling for strategies of decarceration, our goal is to demonstrate the need for second chance legislation in Maine in the form of the reinstatement of parole, an effective clemency process, a far-reaching reevaluation of custody levels, and a new revision of the Maine Criminal Code. We argue that Maine needs a restorative pathway to decarceration that would meaningfully reduce the number of people in prison and recidivism rates, while emplacing broader and more effective responses to harm than that afforded by incarceration alone.

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PDF People v. Poole

Organization/Publisher:Michigan Court of Appeals

In 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court held in People v. Parks that mandatory LWOP sentences for people who were age 18 at the time of the crime violate the Michigan Constitution. However, the Court did not decide in that case whether this applied to people who were already serving LWOP sentences. Instead, it sent People v. Poole (this case) back to the Michigan Court of Appeals to make that determination. The Michigan Court of Appeals concluded that the Parks decision does apply retroactively. Several counties were already interpreting the Parks decision to apply retroactively, but the Poole decision means that statewide, people who were subject to mandatory LWOP sentences for crimes that they committed when they were 18 will be resentenced.

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PDF The Future of Parole Release

Organization/Publisher:University of Chicago
Author:Edward E. Rhine , Joan Petersilia , and Kevin R. Reitz

American parole boards have played a critical role in the formulation and administration of states’ prison policies in recent decades—and could play an equally important part in helping end mass incarceration. Long neglected by academic, research, and policy communities, systems of discretionary prison release are in need of improvement, if not “reinvention.” A plan for revitalization of parole release should lay out a comprehensive and aspirational model for the future. It must address the institutional structure of parole boards, how much release discretion they are given, the substantive grounds for release decisions, the use of risk assessments in the decisional process, decision-making tools such as parole release guidelines, the requirements of fair and reliable procedures, victims’ rights at parole hearings, the need for parole supervision in some but not all cases, the intensity of parole conditions, and the length of parole supervision.

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LINK The Felony Murder Reporting Project

Organization/Publisher:The Felony Murder Reporting Project, Yale Investigative Reporting Lab, Zealous

The Felony Murder Reporting Project is an independent, interactive online storytelling hub and data project accompanying Sarah Stillman’s 2023 investigative reporting on felony murder for the New Yorker. It is a living resource to encourage local and national efforts to document the felony murder doctrine’s reach, while supporting local investigative reporting and public-interest data journalism on the issue.

For the last two years, the Yale Investigative Reporting Lab has been working to investigate the scope and human toll of the felony-murder rule, collaborating with law school clinics, data analysts, and digital storytellers at Zealous. Thus far, we have spent more than a thousand collaborative hours to unearth and analyze more than 10,000 cases, state by state, examining race, gender, age, and other variables.

Our investigation revealed four fundamental and troubling patterns within the felony-murder prosecutions we examined:

  • Felony murder is a significant driver of the extreme sentencing of youth, Black people, and women (including survivors of domestic violence and police violence), and an overlooked driver of mass incarceration.
  • Felony murder drives many of the lengthiest and most inequitable sentences.
  • Most states keep no clear data on felony murder convictions.
  • Felony murder distorts the power of plea bargains.

 

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