Hot Topics and Features
NCSL tracks perennial criminal justice issues, and also provides information and analysis on current hot topics of interest to lawmakers and their constituents, including issues like unmanned aerial vehicles; synthetic drug threats; juvenile life without parole sentences; death penalty; human trafficking; and how state sex offender registration laws are adapting to federal requirements.
Issues covered here:
Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Unmanned aircraft systems, also commonly called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, and their technological enhancements have captured the attention of government officials, the media and the general public. 42 states have introduced drone legislation in 2013 and states are addressing questions about their practical uses, economic impact and concerns over privacy. To find information on state enactments and pending legislation on this issue. (More)
Synthetic Drug Threats
State legislatures nationwide have outlawed two synthetic drugs—synthetic cannabinoids (commonly known as "Spice" or "K2") and substituted cathinones (or “bath salts”). (More)
Mandatory Life Without Parole Sentences Held Unconstitutional for Juveniles in Miller v. Alabama
On June 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court, in Miller v. Alabama, ruled that imposing mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole on juveniles violates the Eight Amendment of the United States Constitution. (More)
This year Maryland abolished the death penalty; and in recent years Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico and New Jersey also have removed the death penalty, replacing it with a sentence of life imprisonment with no opportunity for parole. Meanwhile, states across the country continue to debate its fairness, reliability and cost of implementation. (More)
It is estimated that there are as many as 18,000 cases of human trafficking that occur within the United States each year. Human trafficking is the illegal buying, selling, and smuggling people, usually women and children, to profit from their forced sexual servitude and labor. State leaders continue to search for effective ways to combat traffickers while protecting and providing support for the victims of these crimes. (More)
Sex Offender Registration and Federal SORNA
Title I, Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) provisions of the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety, set many federal requirements of states. Compliance deadline was July 27, 2011 and penalty of 10 percent reduction of federal law enforcement assistance grants. (More)
Sex Offender Legislation
Sex offender policies continue to be high on state legislative agendas. Some enactments respond to the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) provisions of the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. Other state actions place residence and other restrictions on sex offenders. (More)
Other Issues / Publications / Resource:
Arrestee DNA collection
Self defense and "stand your ground"
To improve employment prospects for ex-offenders, states have adopted policies to encourage their employment, addressed employer liability and hiring incentives, expanded eligibility for record-clearing policies, and supported employment training and reentry programs. “Ex-Offender Employment Opportunities,” discusses these topics as part of successful offender reentry strategies.
The challenges and significance of recidivism data in sentencing and corrections policy are discussed in this Q&A with Howard Snyder, chief of Recidivism, Reentry and Special Projects for the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Includes information on state laws addressing offender DNA databases, arrestees, accreditation and oversight, post-conviction policies. Watch this webinar to learn more about what’s in the database and how to use it.