NGO report

Felony Murder: An On-Ramp for Extreme Sentencing

By The Sentencing Project, Fair and Just Prosecution, on 23 March 2022

Although other countries have largely rejected the felony murder doctrine, 48 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government still use these laws. Felony murder laws compel harsh decades-long – or even life – sentences even when the individual charged did not directly cause or intend the loss of life.

This report evaluates the legal and empirical foundation, and failings, of the felony murder rule, profiles impacted individuals, and highlights recent reform efforts in 10 jurisdictions. Key findings include:

1. Felony murder laws widen the net of extreme sentencing and are counterproductive to public safety.
2. Felony murder laws have particularly adverse impacts on people of color, young people, and women.
3. Existing reforms must be expanded to achieve justice.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Countries list United States