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.
  • 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 individuals not convicted of a crime of violence. It also highlighted the successes in the states on justice reinvestment and mandatory minimum sentencing reform.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is proud to be a leader on criminal justice reform. For over a decade, the ALEC task force on criminal justice has brought state legislators and stakeholders together for the purpose of driving sound criminal justice policies. ALEC members focus on new and innovative state policies that address overcriminalization, reform civil asset forfeiture, reform mandatory minimum sentences, reduce the rates of incarceration, reform policing, and help rehabilitate and restore individuals with a criminal history.


The ALEC Criminal Justice Task Force includes a diverse coalition of allies that offer research and experience to achieve the shared goal of a more fair and impartial criminal justice system. Notable members include Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), Prison Fellowship, Right on Crime, The ACU Foundation for Criminal Justice Reform, and the American Bail Coalition. 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 in states such as Montana and Mississippi to pass laws addressing the issue of fines and fees and driver’s license suspensions.


ALEC members played an instrumental role in helping pass the historic FIRST STEP Act in 2018, which was modeled after successful criminal justice legislation passed in states such as Georgia, Maryland, 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. ALEC joined organizations such as the American Conservative Union, the ACLU, #cut50, and Right on Crime in driving support for the law. It was also based off of several ALEC model policies, including the Justice Safety Valve Act, the Resolution in Support of Justice Reinvestment, and 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, 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”, “The Latest Trends of Asset Forfeiture Transparency and Juvenile Justice”, and “2016: A Successful Year for Criminal Justice Reform and Path to the Future.”


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Model Policies

  • Record Expungement Act Draft

    Section 1. Expungement of Other Convictions (1) Except as otherwise provided in this act, a person who is convicted of 1 or more criminal offenses may file an application with the convicting court for the entry of an order setting aside 1 or more convictions as follows: (a)…

  • Resolution on Mental Health and Criminal Justice Draft

    WHEREAS, violent crime and suicide have significantly increased since 2020 and, though numerous factors still being studied are likely contributing factors, a rise in mental health problems has been linked to both the pandemic and restrictions imposed in response to it; and WHREAS, research shows, though the vast majority of…

  • Fines and Fees at Sentencing Act Draft

    Section 1: Short title. This act may be cited as the Fines and Fees at Sentencing Act. Section 2: Definitions. “Ability to pay” means the defendant’s current capability to pay court-ordered fines, fees, or other financial sanctions without economic hardship. “Economic hardship” means an interference with the ability to cover…

  • Resolution in Support of Effective Strategies to Support Law Enforcement and Reduce Violent Crime Draft

    WHEREAS, the United States is in the midst of a troubling crime wave. 2019 to 2020 saw the single largest year-to-year increase in murders in our nation’s history, a trend that continued into 2021. Many jurisdictions, such as Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, have seen carjackings double, triple,…

  • Amendments to the Fines and Fees Reporting Act Draft

    Model Policy (1) Purpose. Under municipal, county and state law, governmental entities can impose criminal and civil fines and fees. This authority can be misused to unjustly generate revenue. It is the responsibility of state legislators to monitor the use of fines and fees to ensure that they are…

  • Act to Prepare Inmates for Re-entry and the Workforce Draft

    BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ­­­__________: SECTION 1. (A) When any inmate shall be discharged from an institution of the Department of Corrections and the intended residence designated by the inmate is within this state, the Department of Corrections shall provide the inmate with relevant…

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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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