Bernard Noble approved for parole, and the news in criminal justice this week

“He’s done an incredibly long sentence for two joints of marijuana.”

Bernard Noble, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for possession of two joint’s worth of marijuana, has been approved for parole in Louisiana after serving seven years. His case had become a rallying cry for proponents of sentencing reform, and his release comes amid implementation of the criminal justice reforms passed by the legislature last year.

“There is little consideration for pregnant women and incarcerated mothers.”

Kentucky State Senator Julie Raque Adams introduced legislation this week that focuses on the needs of incarcerated women—providing adequate hygiene products, ending the shackling of pregnant women, and allowing some pregnant women to be released from custody to seek substance abuse treatment. The bill passed out of committee and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. Elsewhere in Kentucky, Governor Matt Bevin and Justice Secretary John Tilley called for legislation to control the growth of the prison population. Kentucky’s prison population is expected to increase by 19% over the next ten years, and the Commonwealth’s prisons will run out of space by May 2019.

“It is time for us as a criminal justice system to do better.”

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced this week that his office would no longer seek cash bail for people accused of some misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Right now, 20% of the people in Philadelphia’s city jails are being held because they had not posted bail, which Krasner previously called “imprisonment for poverty.” In the Philadelphia Inquirer, R Street’s Arthur Rizer and Alyse Ullery argued that conservatives should support Krasner’s reforms, including ending the misuse of civil asset forfeiture, and seeking alternatives to incarceration.

“Courts are willing to routinely violate people’s due process rights to do debt collectors’ dirty work.”

The ACLU released a report this week on the criminalization of debt. In 26 states, the ACLU examined more than 1,000 cases in which civil court judges issued arrest warrants for debtors. They found debts as low as $28, ranging from student loans and medical costs to gym fees and pay-day loans, and arrest warrants issued without evaluating whether the person has the ability or obligation to pay.

“We can ensure greater transparency for the public and accurate data for policymakers.”

The Florida House of Representatives has passed a bill to create a new searchable database that would track criminal court decisions at every step and require that the data be comparable, transferable and readily usable. The legislation would give the public access to information on arrests, bail, sentencing, and criminal punishment code scoresheets, which are used to calculate sentencing recommendations.