In June, we alerted you that the House of Representatives was considering the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly known as the Farm Bill) that included an amendment to permanently bar people with certain criminal records from receiving food stamps—creating more barriers for people trying to reintegrate into society. Within 24 hours, over 400 of you contacted your representative urging them to oppose this measure. Thank you! Unfortunately, the House did pass the legislation by a vote of 213 to 211, but the Senate version of the bill does not include the ban. We will keep you updated over the next several weeks as the chambers work to reconcile the bills.
Below are other important resources I want to bring to your attention:
- Felony Disenfranchisement Litigation – Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that Florida’s process for restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions was unconstitutional. The state appealed the ruling and the appellate court will hear arguments on July 25th. The Sentencing Project filed an amicus brief underscoring the punitive and arbitrary nature of the restoration process, and contending that disenfranchisement is counterproductive to effective reentry.
- Life With Parole Litigation – We also filed an amicus brief in support of Jacob Davis, who is serving a life-with-parole sentence in Tennessee for a homicide committed at the age of 18. Because Tennessee requires individuals to serve 51 years in prison before a first parole hearing, Davis argues that his sentence is effectively life without parole. The Sentencing Project provided expert testimony in the case in addition to our amicus, noting that Tennessee has the longest mandatory minimum sentence for a parole-eligible life sentences, and that Davis is unlikely to live long enough to appear at his first parole hearing, scheduled for 2049.
- Trends In U.S. Corrections – We’ve also recently updated our graphic overview of key criminal justice data, Trends in U.S. Corrections. This fact sheet provides information on incarceration, drug policy, race and ethnicity, gender, felony disenfranchisement and other trends over the past several decades.
I hope you find this information useful in your work.