Key Points
  • ALEC members have led efforts in the states to protect and enhance public safety, while simultaneously addressing overcriminalization and preventing unnecessary prison stays.
  • Working with Congress and President Trump, the historic FIRST STEP Act was driven by ALEC members who had seen the successes in the states of sound policies on prisoner reentry programs and reducing prison sentences for certain offenders not convicted of a crime of violence.
The American Legislative Exchange Council is proud to be a leader on criminal justice in the states. For over a decade, the ALEC task force on criminal justice has brought state legislators and stakeholders together to for the purpose of driving sound criminal justice policies. ALEC members focus on new and innovative state policies that address overcriminalization, protect private property rights, and help rehabilitate and restore offenders’ lives.

The ALEC Criminal Justice Task Force includes 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), Prison Fellowship, Right on Crime, Stop Child Predators, and the American Bail Coalition of which William Carmichael is the ALEC Criminal Justice private sector chair. In 2019, ALEC and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) joined forces on addressing the pervasiveness of burdensome fines and fees in the criminal justice system. A part of our work includes this New York Times op-ed discussing the impact of fines and fees on the lives of individuals. Over the last few years, ALEC and its members have led efforts states such as Montana and Mississippi pass laws addressing the issue of fines and fees and driver’s license suspensions.

ALEC members played an instrumental role in passing the historic FIRST STEP Act, which was modeled after successful criminal justice legislation passed in states such as Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas. In essence, this was the federal government’s effort to mimic the successful solutions that have been demonstrated in the laboratories of democracy. The bill was also based off of several ALEC model policies, including the Justice Safety Valve Actand the Resolution in Support of Reentry Programs.

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, “The Time to Hesitate is Through: The Number of Laws Criminalizing Innocent Conduct is a Touch Too Much” and “The Latest Trends of Asset Forfeiture Transparency and Juvenile Justice”.

Publications

+ All Criminal Justice Publications

Model Policies

  • Dignity For Incarcerated Women Final

    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 …

  • An Act to Expand the Contours and Applicability of the Affirmative Defense of “Mistake of Law” In Criminal Cases Final

    Summary: This model policy seeks to expand, in a subset of criminal cases (particularly nonviolent 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 law by a prosecutor, a subsequently …

  • AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE CRIMINAL CODE RECODIFICATION COMMISSION Final

    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 Regulatory Criminalization Final

    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 …

  • Resolution in Support of Establishing Efficient and Fair Criminal Law Discovery Practices Final

    Resolution: WHEREAS, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is committed to developing effective and fair criminal justice policies that create safe communities for citizens as well as strong state budgets; and WHEREAS, in some states, existing criminal law discovery practices limit the production or sharing of information that is in …

+ All Criminal Justice Model Policies

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

+ All Criminal Justice Press Releases