News Release

Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Releases Model “Second Look” Legislation and Report; Calls for Common-Sense Sentencing Reform

Washington, DC (Dec. 10, 2020) – Today, NACDL released its model “Second Look” sentencing legislation and accompanying report -- Second Look = Second Chance: The NACDL Model “Second Look” Legislation. The NACDL model legislation provides a vehicle that legislatures can use to safely reduce the number of individuals serving excessive, counter-productive sentences: guaranteeing all incarcerated individuals a “Second Look” once they have spent at least a decade in prison.

As explained in the report:

"This proposal would allow long-term incarcerated individuals, assisted by counsel, to petition courts for a sentence reduction after ten years in prison, and periodically thereafter if warranted. As this report explains, the procedure created by NACDL’s proposed legislation is flexible, allowing judges to consider a wide range of up-to-date information in assessing whether a lengthy sentence can appropriately be reduced. It gives victims a voice to whatever extent they want one, without burdening them. It includes appellate review to ensure fairness and consistency. And it includes mechanisms for channeling the resulting savings back into programs that will help make the program sustainable — and help the individuals who receive a second chance to succeed and become productive members of society, to the benefit of all."

“The work of reversing decades of irrational, draconian sentencing in the American criminal legal system – sentencing that all-too-often has disproportionately impacted people of color – requires a multi-pronged approach,” said NACDL President Chris Adams. “NACDL continues to urge state and federal executives to routinely use their clemency power, which includes the ability to commute an individual's sentence. However, that should not be the only option to address overly long sentences. Based on sound and sensible criminal legal policy, NACDL’s model ‘Second Look’ legislation, and the accompanying report, provide a common-sense approach to revisiting and reconsidering lengthy sentences that all policymakers should seriously consider as federal and state legislatures begin new sessions in the new year.”

As explained in the report, the goals of second look legislation must be to ensure that every defendant serving a lengthy sentence has the opportunity for careful, individualized consideration of whether that sentence continues to be warranted – and that courts take full advantage of the additional insight that a decade of new information can provide.

NACDL’s model “Second Look” legislation emanated from NACDL’s Second Look Task Force and was approved by NACDL’s Board of Directors. The accompanying report was authored by JaneAnne Murray, Sean Hecker, Michael Skocpol, and Marissa Elkins. NACDL’s Second Look Task Force is co-chaired by JaneAnne Murray and Nanzella ‘Nan’ Whitfield and is made up of the following members: Alisa Blair, Jeremy Delicino, Marissa Elkins, Nina Ginsberg, Sean Hecker, Shon Hopwood, Steven Morrison, Robert Patillo, Marjorie Peerce, Todd Pugh, Gabriel Reyes, Christina Swarns, and Bruce Udolf. Brianna Newcomb and Thomas Huling, students at the University of Minnesota Law School, provided research assistance to the report’s authors.

NACDL’s model “Second Look” sentencing legislation and report are available at www.nacdl.org/secondlook.

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Contacts

Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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