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

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Model Policies

  • An Act Regarding Post-Conviction Relief On The Grounds of Changes In Forensic Scientific Evidence Final

    SECTION 1. DEFINITIONS.  “Forensic science” is the application of scientific or technical practices to the recognition, collection, analysis, and interpretation of evidence for criminal and civil law or regulatory issues.  “Forensic scientific evidence” shall include scientific or technical knowledge; a testifying forensic analyst’s or expert’s scientific or technical knowledge or …

  • Pre-Arrest Diversion Final

    Model Policy Section 1.  Local communities and public or private educational institutions may adopt a prearrest diversion program in which: (a) Law enforcement officers, at their sole discretion, may issue civil citations to certain adults who commit a qualifying nonviolent misdemeanor offense listed in Section 2. A civil citation may …

  • Resolution on Criminal Justice Fines and Fees Final

    Summary This Resolution supports ensuring that fines and fees imposed by the criminal justice system are reasonable, transparent, and proportionate, and not in conflict with the goals of improving public safety, reducing recidivism, ensuring victims receive restitution, and enabling offenders and ex-offenders to meet obligations to their families, especially children.

  • Criminal Intent Protection Act Final

    {Title, enacting clause, etc.} Section 1. {Title.}  This Act may be cited as the “The Criminal Intent Protection Act.” Section 2. {Legislative Purpose and Findings.} The purpose of this Act is to enact default rules of application to ensure that criminal intent (mens rea) requirements are adequate …

  • The Treating Accused Persons Fairly Act Final

    {Title, enacting clause, etc.} Section 1. {Title.} This Act may be cited as “The Treating Accused Persons Fairly Act of 2011” Section 2. {Congressional Purpose.} The purpose of this Act is to reduce the risk of injustice stemming from State and local criminal offenses and penalties …

  • Resolution on DNA Testing and Victims’ Rights Final

    WHEREAS, a primary role of state government is to ensure public safety; and WHEREAS, the efficient use of DNA technology is paramount to helping law enforcement identify the guilty and to preserving and protecting victims’ rights to justice and due process; and WHEREAS, victims must go …

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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

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