Key Points
  • ALEC members’ work has sparked a new wave of state criminal justice reform legislation that is carefully crafted to maximize taxpayer dollars to protect the public while preventing overcriminalization and unnecessary prison stays.
  • For years, the ALEC Justice Performance Project has brought together a diverse coalition of allies that offer research and experience to achieve the shared goal of better sentencing laws. Notable members include Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), Justice Fellowship, Right on Crime, Institute for Justice, Prison Fellowship, and Stop Child Predators, of which Stacie Rumenap is the ALEC Justice Performance Project private sector chair.
  • In 2012, ALEC and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) hosted a summit focused on inspiring state criminal justice reform. Working with the ACLU, ALEC members successfully implemented mandatory minimum sentencing reforms around the country.
  • In September of 2015, ALEC and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) formed a new partnership to prioritize the prevention of overcriminalization, the reforming of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the reduction of recidivism rates and the promotion of community-based alternatives to lengthy jail stays for non-violent offenders.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is proud to be a leader on criminal justice reforms in the states. Since 2008, the ALEC task force on criminal justice reform, called the Justice Performance Project, has brought state legislators and stakeholders together to combat the trend of unforgiving and harsh criminal laws. ALEC members focus on new and innovative state policies that reduce prison populations, prioritize criminal justice spending and help rehabilitate and restore offenders’ lives.

ALEC members’ work has sparked a new wave of state criminal justice reform legislation that is carefully crafted to maximize taxpayer dollars to protect the public while preventing overcriminalization and unnecessary prison stays. Thanks to the leadership of Texas State Representative Jerry Madden, in 2010 Texas passed the first criminal justice reforms that other states would soon emulate. That same year, North Carolina passed comprehensive criminal justice reform, called the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA), which was based on several ALEC model policies. Since enacting JRA, North Carolina has closed ten prisons, enjoyed an 11 percent decrease in crime and saved $48 million in the 2014 fiscal year. Representative Madden, who became the chair of the ALEC Justice Performance Project in 2012, has since been recognized as a national leader on criminal justice issues. Thirty-one states have enacted into law evidence-based reforms inspired by ALEC model policy.

For years, the ALEC Justice Performance Project has brought together a diverse coalition of allies that offer research and experience to achieve the shared goal of better sentencing laws. Notable members include Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), Justice Fellowship, Right on Crime, Institute for Justice, Prison Fellowship, and Stop Child Predators, of which Stacie Rumenap is the ALEC Justice Performance Project private sector chair. ALEC also partners with organizations that have proven track records of leading criminal justice reforms.  In 2012, ALEC and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) hosted a summit focused on inspiring state criminal justice reform. Working with the ACLU, ALEC members successfully implemented mandatory minimum sentencing reforms around the country.

In September of 2015, ALEC and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) formed a new partnership to prioritize the prevention of overcriminalization, the reforming of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the reduction of recidivism rates and the promotion of community-based alternatives to lengthy jail stays for non-violent offenders. ALEC and NBCSL also developed a shared statement of principles on criminal justice reform that will guide members’ efforts in state outreach and education.

At the 2015 ALEC Annual Meeting in San Diego, members of the Justice Performance Project discussed a broad range of issues, including civil asset forfeiture reform, Ohio mens rea reforms, the Utah Justice Reinvestment Act, and held a conversation about forensic evidence. Members also considered model policies related to expunging records, diverting low-level drug offenders to courts instead of prison, and encouraging states to ask the federal government for flexibility when determining how to sentence a juvenile sex offender. At the upcoming December 2015 meeting, members will discuss a model policy that removes juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent from sex offender registries and a model policy that “bans the box” on state employment applications.

ALEC members will continue to advance innovative ideas that improve lives and balance budgets. All criminal justice reform research and model policies are available on alec.org, and examples of work include the reports, “Criminalizing America – How Big Government Makes a Criminal of Every American” and “Recidivism Reduction: Community-Based Supervision Alternatives to Incarceration.” ALEC members look forward to developing new partnerships and relationships with all those who seek to advance criminal justice reforms.

Publications

+ All Criminal Justice Reform Publications

Model Policies

  • RESOLUTION ON “DRUG-FREE ZONES” Draft

    Summary: This resolution supports reforming “Drug-Free Zone” laws. Many Drug-Free Zone laws establish mandatory sentences and enhanced penalties for drug crimes committed within certain areas designated by statute. These areas often extend 1,000 feet or more – up to three miles – beyond the real property of schools, parks, and …

  • RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF REENTRY PROGRAMS Draft

    Summary: This Resolution serves to raise awareness of the need for sound reentry policies. Roughly 96% of all incarcerated individuals will be released from prison and smart reentry policies will help reduce recidivism rates and make the public safer. Model Resolution: WHEREAS, every person is endowed with human dignity and …

  • RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF LIMITING DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS TO VIOLATIONS THAT INVOLVE DANGEROUS DRIVING Draft

    Summary: A person whose driver’s license is suspended will often find it more difficult to earn a living and therefore pay the debt they owe to the government. The number of individuals with a suspended license also places a burden on the limited resources of law enforcement. This resolution encourages …

  • JAILHOUSE INFORMANT REGULATIONS Draft

    Summary: This model provides for greater transparency and disclosure during critical stages of litigation concerning the use of jailhouse informants or incarcerated witnesses. This includes requiring the state to disclose any benefit, such as a reduction of sentence, offered to the witness in exchange for their testimony. It …

  • Grand Jury Due Reform Act Final

    TITLE: GRAND JURY DUE REFORM ACT SUMMARY: The purpose of this act is to provide greater transparency, accountability, and fairness for the accused during grand jury proceedings. States that still permit grand jury proceedings ought to have certain safeguards to preserve an accused’s due process protections. SECTION 1.

  • RESOLUTION ON RAISING FELONY THEFT THRESHOLDS Final

    RESOLUTION ON RAISING FELONY THEFT THRESHOLDS Summary: This Resolution supports raising felony theft thresholds, as many current state felony theft thresholds were set years or decades ago, and have not been updated to reflect economic growth, nor changes in the value of consumer goods. For example, a …

+ All Criminal Justice Reform Model Policies

Task Forces

Criminal Justice Reform

Currently, nearly one in every 100 American adults is behind bars and once released from prison more than four in …

Press Releases

+ All Criminal Justice Reform Press Releases