Press Release

American Legislative Exchange Council Announces Partnership with National Black Caucus of State Legislators on Criminal Justice Reform Issues

American Legislative Exchange Council Announces Partnership with National Black Caucus of State Legislators on Criminal Justice Reform Issues

September 17, 2015 (Washington, D.C.)—The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) have formed a new partnership to prioritize criminal justice reform around the country. The partnership will concentrate on state criminal justice reforms that prevent overcriminalization, reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, reduce recidivism rates and promote community-based alternatives to lengthy jail stays for non-violent offenders.

“ALEC and NBCSL are excited to work together to develop a holistic approach to criminal justice reform that encourages smarter sentencing and reduces prison populations,” said ALEC CEO Lisa B. Nelson. “Fixing the whole system—not just certain parts—is key. Through ALEC and NBCSL, state legislators can work together to reduce prison populations, prioritize criminal justice spending, help rehabilitate offenders and restore their lives.”

Today, ALEC and NBCSL held a joint criminal justice reform summit to host a roundtable discussion on working together on criminal justice initiatives in the states. The two groups also developed a shared statement of principles on criminal justice reform that will guide them in their state outreach and educational efforts.

“Ending mass incarceration and criminal justice reform has always been a priority of NBCSL,” said Catherine Pugh, Maryland State Senate Majority Leader and National President of NBCSL.  “Developing solutions and working with organizations dedicated to reform enables us as legislators to eliminate policies that needlessly fill our nation’s jails and prisons, especially with people of color, and also helps us to focus on creating policies that are fair and equitable.”

The ALEC Justice Performance Project, an initiative that focuses on criminal justice reforms, has for years brought together a diverse coalition of allies that work to address a host of criminal justice issues. In 2012, ALEC and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) hosted a summit on criminal justice reform in the states. 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 a conversation about forensic evidence. The Project 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. See the agenda from the meeting here.

ALEC and NBCSL are also focused on engaging more legislators in all policy areas. Earlier this year, ALEC and NBCSL member Clementa Pinkney, a state senator in South Carolina, was killed in a church massacre. In memoriam, ALEC created the Clementa Pinkney Scholarship, which provides scholarships to legislators to attend ALEC meetings.

“ALEC is proud to partner with NBCSL to identify candidates for the Clementa Pinkney Scholarship,” said Lisa B. Nelson. “Senator Pinkney’s work and engagement in ALEC will continue to live on in this scholarship.”


Additional ALEC resources:

ALEC Criminal Justice Reform Model Policies

ALEC Report: Criminalizing America – How Big Government Makes a Criminal of Every American

ALEC Report: Recidivism Reduction: Community-Based Supervision Alternatives to Incarceration