About the Task Force
The Council on Criminal Justice Task Force on Long Sentences was convened to assess drivers of growth in the number of people sentenced to 10 years or more behind bars, the effectiveness of long sentences in preventing and deterring crime, and their effects on incarcerated people and their families, crime victims and survivors, communities, and correctional staff. The panel also examined the impact of such sentences on racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in the prison system, and considered ways to improve the post-release success of people who have served long prison terms.
Co-chaired by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, the Task Force met from February through December 2022. Sixteen members were selected to represent a broad range of experience and perspectives, including crime victims and survivors, formerly incarcerated people, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and law enforcement, courts, and corrections officials. Task Force Director John Maki previously led Illinois’ nonpartisan prison oversight organization and has served in multiple other criminal justice policy roles.
Task Force members strive to reach consensus on findings and policy proposals. Members are asked to join a consensus signifying that they endorse the general policy thrust and judgments reached by the group, though not necessarily every finding and recommendation. Task Force members may append to the group report an additional view if they wish. Members participate in Task Forces in their individual, not their institutional, capacities, and professional affiliations included in Task Force reports do not imply institutional endorsement.
Task Forces are independent of the Council and solely responsible for the content of their reports. Task Force topics are selected by Council leadership and meetings are facilitated by Council staff and consultants, but neither the Council’s Board of Directors nor its Board of Trustees approves or disapproves the findings and recommendations.