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Extensive Research Supports Manhattan DA's New 20-Year Cap on Prison Sentences, Says The Sentencing Project

WASHINGTON -

This week, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced sweeping changes to the borough’s criminal justice system that would significantly reduce the prison population. He requested that prosecutors no longer request prison sentences of more than 20 years except in exceptional circumstances. He also asked prosecutors to only pursue incarceration for people who commit the most serious offenses. 

Amy Fettig, Executive Director at The Sentencing Project, issued the following statement in support of the policies:

“We applaud District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s efforts to reform Manhattan’s extreme sentencing policies and make our criminal legal system more humane. The Sentencing Project has recommended a 20-year cap on prison sentences for years because research has shown that  life sentences do little to protect public safety. People convicted of even the most serious offenses typically age out of crime within 20 years.

Virtually no other nation in the world routinely pursues extreme sentences beyond 20 years. The United States is a clear and appalling outlier.

Rather than wasting inordinate sums of money locking people up unnecessarily, funding should go towards public goods that actually address the root causes of crime – like education, healthcare, housing, and other rehabilitative efforts that produce healthier and safer communities.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s science-based policies will make communities more resilient and humane. We hope leaders across the country will follow his example.”

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The Sentencing Project is a leader in changing the way Americans think about crime and punishment. The Sentencing Project promotes effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice.

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