Key Points
  • ALEC members’ work has sparked a new wave of state criminal justice 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 policy. 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 in the states. Since 2008, the ALEC task force on criminal justice 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 Criminal Justice Task Force 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, Stop Child Predators, and the American Bail Coalition of which William Carmichael is the ALEC Criminal Justice 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 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 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 policy.

Publications

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Model Policies

  • Dignity For Incarcerated Women Draft

    SUMMARY: An ACT regarding the care of state incarcerated pregnant women, family visitation rights, the access male correctional officers have in correctional facilities where a female inmate may be in a state of undress, access to feminine hygiene products in correctional facilities, and the education and training of employees of …

  • Theft Prevention Diversion Programs Draft

    Summary: This policy will provide for theft prevention programs and reduce recidivism rates of nonviolent shoplifters. AN ACT Relative to theft of goods, this act will provide a mechanism for theft prevention programs, prohibit the exclusion of participants based upon certain factors, provide relative to a fee, …

  • AN ACT TO EXPAND THE CONTOURS AND APPLICABILITY OF THE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE OF “MISTAKE OF LAW” IN CRIMINAL CASES Draft

    Summary: This model policy seeks to expand, in a subset of criminal cases (specifically those not involving violent, drug, or property offenses), the applicability of a “mistake of law” defense beyond its current contours, which, in most states, requires a defendant to establish reliance on an official interpretation of the …

  • AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE CRIMINAL CODE RECODIFICATION COMMISSION Draft

    Summary: A model policy to address the counterintuitive codification of criminal offenses at the state level by establishing a recodification commission to assemble, and present to the legislature for amendment and potential adoption, a single, comprehensive criminal code. SEC. 1 | COMMISSION ESTABLISHED There is established the Criminal Code …

  • AN ACT TO END “CRIMINALIZATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION” Draft

    Summary: An act to prohibit the creation of criminal offenses not subject to the strictures of bicameralism and presentment. SEC. 1 | DEFINITIONS 1. Regulatory “catchall” provision—A provision in legislation that prescribes penalties (specifically criminal penalties, for the purposes of this legislation) for the violation of a rule, or …

  • Criminal Justice Data Transparency Model Final

    SECTION 1. Legislative Purpose and Findings a) The purpose of this act is to create a model of uniform criminal justice data collection by requiring local and state criminal justice agencies to report complete, accurate, and timely data, and making such data available to the public. b) It is found …

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Task Forces

Criminal Justice

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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