State Legislative Affairs

State Legislative Affairs

Access to The Champion archive is one of many exclusive member benefits. It’s normally restricted to just NACDL members. However, this content, and others like it, is available to everyone in order to educate the public on why criminal justice reform is a necessity.

Collateral Consequences

Nation: ABA Passes Resolution to Reduce Collateral Sanctions, Improve Re-Entry

At its February meeting, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates endorsed a number of policies that would expand alternatives to incarceration, reduce the collateral consequences of a conviction, and improve re-entry of ex-offenders into the community. The policy recommendations were developed by the ABA’s Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions, which was formed to develop a broad consensus among prosecutors, defenders, judges, and academics about “what can and should be done to reduce reliance on incarceration and to reduce recidivism.” The commission held hearings around the country and heard from criminal justice officials from many states. The recommendations have been endorsed by NACDL, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the National District Attorneys Association.

To follow up on its recommendations, the commission will host a CLE seminar on March 30 in Chicago, and host a conference on April 30-May 1.

A full copy of the ABA’s resolution and more information about the commission’s activities can be found at 

Death Penalty

Maryland: Governor Testifies in Favor of Abolition 

Maryland’s new governor, Martin O’Malley, made headlines Feb. 21 when he testified before both houses of the General Assembly, calling on legislators to support legislation that would abolish the death penalty and replace it with life without parole. Earlier that week, the Washington Post published an op-ed he authored with the same sentiment. O’Malley described capital punishment as being “inherently unjust and without deterrent value.” He argued that millions in court costs could be saved by abolishing the death penalty, and those savings could be used to increase public safety by hiring police officers or expanding drug treatment. 

In addition to O’Malley, a number of death row exonerees testified, including Maryland’s Kirk Bloodsworth and Arizona’s Ray Krone. Maryland’s former Attorney General Joseph Curran Jr. and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey testified in favor of abolition as well.  

The legislation is HB 225/SB 211.

Montana: Senate Votes to Abolish Death Penalty
Montana’s Senate voted 27-22 on Feb. 24 to abolish the death penalty. Republicans largely opposed the measure while Democrats largely supported it. According to the Associated Press, lawmakers quoted Jesus, Thomas Jefferson, and Ted Bundy during the debate. The bill number is SB 306. (“State Senate Votes to Abolish Death Penalty,” Associated Press, February 26, 2007)

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Eyewitness Identification Reform

Nation: Reform Bills Introduced, Advance Around Country 

Eyewitness identification reform bills had been introduced in 10 states for the 2007 legislative session as The Champion went to press. States with eyewitness reform bills include: California (SB 756), Connecticut (SB 1240), Georgia (HB 308 and HR 352), Maryland (HB 103/SB 157), New Mexico (HB 295/SB 5), New York (AB 925 and SB 1808), Rhode Island (HB 5359/SB 287), Texas (SB 799), Vermont (HB 50), and West Virginia (SB 82). Legislation will be introduced soon in Massachusetts and Michigan. The New Mexico bill passed the Senate on Feb. 5 and the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 20. Maryland’s bills have passed both the House and Senate, and now differences in the bills must be rectified. And thanks to excellent work by the Innocence Project, West Virginia’s bill passed the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee. 

Stay tuned to future issues of The Champion for progress reports on these bills.  


Oregon: Bill Requires Racial Impact Statements for Sentencing Legislation 

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State Rep. Chip Shields recently introduced HB 2933, which would require that “any legislation that could change the state’s prison population shall be accompanied by a racial and ethnic impact statement.” Such an analysis would have to be performed by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission prior to a hearing on a bill. The idea is being promoted by The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice research and advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. More information can be found online at