Criminal Legal Reform
Over the last four decades, this country has relentlessly expanded the size of our criminal justice system, needlessly throwing away too many lives and wasting trillions of taxpayer dollars. Montana is no exception. Our criminal legal system is unproductive, wasteful, and dominated by racial disparities.
The ACLU of Montana advocates for smart justice reform in the legislature, in the courts, and by working in collaboration with key stakeholders including formerly incarcerated people. We work to end mass incarceration, combat the criminalization of poverty, decrease racial disparities, and ensure constitutionally protected treatment for people with disabilities.
See the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice Montana State Blueprint project for more about mass incarceration and our recommendations for positive change.
We also work to improve conditions for those who are currently incarcerated. In our 2015 report, “Locked in the Past,” we found that county jails were crowded, understaffed, and failing to meet the medical, mental health, and substance abuse treatment needs of the people incarcerated there.
In order to end mass incarceration, we researched why people are incarcerated, and how hard it is to escape from the criminal legal system. In 2018, we investigated community supervision, publishing “Set Up to Fail,” a report on Probation & Parole.
- 1Between 1980 and 2016, Montana’s prison population increased by 416 percent.
- 2More than 2,000 people were held in our county jails in 2015.
- 3In 2017, while Indigenous people accounted for five percent of all adults in the state, they made up 20 percent of all men in prison and 33 percent of all women in prison.
- 474 percent of admissions to prison in 2015 were people revoked from community supervision due to technical violations of supervision or for committing new crimes.