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The Council on Criminal Justice Task Force on Long Sentences is examining how long prison terms affect public safety, crime victims and survivors, incarcerated individuals and their families, communities, and correctional staff and developing recommendations that will strengthen public safety and advance justice.  

Guided by research and data, and informed by the experiences of victims and survivors of violent crimes and those who have been incarcerated, the Task Force is assessing the drivers of growth in the number of people sentenced to 10 years or more and the impact of such sentences on racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in the prison system. It also is considering ways to improve the post-release success of people serving long prison terms, most of whom return to the community.  

The Task Force is co-chaired by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who was also U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and Trey Gowdy, a long-time federal and state prosecutor who served four terms in the House of Representatives. Joining them are 14 other members representing a broad range of experience and perspectives, including crime victims and survivors, formerly incarcerated people, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, courts, and corrections. 

Launched in spring 2022, the Task Force on Long Sentences follows CCJ’s Violent Crime Working Group, which released a series of bulletins on strategies to address community violence and in January produced aroadmap of 10 essential actions that policymakers can take to reduce violence now.  

Task Force Publications

How Back-End
Factors Affect Time Served

How do laws and administrative rules governing prison release and the awarding of sentence credits affect time served? New research shows the impact can be significant, and varies widely by state.

The Impact of Long Sentences on Public Safety

While there is a rich body of research on the relationship between incarceration and crime, much less is known about how prison sentences of 10 years or more affect public safety. The relationship is complex.

Task Force Members

Trey Gowdy
Former US Representative
South Carolina 4th District
Sally Yates
Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General
Kathryn Bocanegra
Assistant Professor
University of Illinois Chicago
Lisa D. Daniels
Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices
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Angela_Davis, WCL, faculty
Angela Davis
American University
Washington College of Law
Amy Fettig
Executive Director
The Sentencing Project
April Grayson
Statewide Coordinator
Young Women's Freedom Center
Sister Warrior's Freedom Coalition
Timothy Head
Executive Director
Faith and Freedom Coalition
Bernette Joshua Johnson
Chief Justice (ret.)
Louisiana Supreme Court
Paul Larkin
John, Barbara & Victoria
Senior Legal Research Fellow
The Heritage Foundation
Sam Lewis
Executive Director
Anti-Recidivism Coalition
Keisha Outdoor Headshot 1
Chiquisha Robinson
Deputy Chief
Prisoner and Reentry Legal Services, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
Anne Seymour
National Victim/Survivor Advocate
Tarra Simmons
Executive Director
Civil Survival
Bryan Stirling
South Carolina Department of Corrections
Benjamin Tucker
First Deputy Commissioner (Ret.)
New York Police Department
John M.4082 (2)
John Maki
Task Force on Long Sentences

Task Force Meetings

The Task Force meets on a monthly basis to assess the drivers of growth in the number of people serving long prison terms and how such sentences affect public safety, crime victims and survivors, and incarcerated individuals and their families. Task Force members hear from the nation's top experts and researchers on the impacts of long sentences. The summaries below outline the research presented at each meeting.

About the Art

The banner design was created by an adult in custody designer in the Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE) Graphic Design program. The mission of OCE, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Corrections, is to promote public safety by providing adults in custody with work and training opportunities in a self-sustaining organization.


Support for the Task Force comes from Arnold Ventures, the Ford Foundation, Southern Company Foundation, and Stand Together Trust, as well as #StartSmall, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and other CCJ general operating contributors.