Criminal Law Update: A Survey of State Law Changes

Jul 18, 2022

In a report for the Federalist Society, Robert Alt, The Buckeye Institute’s president and chief executive officer provides an overview of the most common and significant state and local criminal laws enacted in 2020. This report summarizes these significant new laws without evaluating the merits of the underlying policies, including the effects of these new laws on crime rates.

Through legislation, local ordinances, ballot initiatives, executive orders, and constitutional amendments, states across the country continued to modify their criminal justice rules and procedures in 2020. Changes ranged from new rules for searches and seizures to pardons and voting rights for convicted felons. 
Support for and opposition to criminal laws and punishments did not tend to break along traditional partisan lines. Changes were pursued by governors of both parties. Many of the new laws received support from members of both parties in statehouses. Some were approved unanimously. Ballot initiatives and state constitutional amendments that passed in November often did so by wide margins. 

Download the report.

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