Arizona's rigid sentencing system has put the state head and shoulders above its neighbors in the use of imprisonment. Population growth and a rule that all prisoners must serve 85 percent of their sentences have pushed the system near the breaking point and placed a large financial burden on state taxpayers. The state has experimented with prison privatization but recent research indicates that the policy has done little or nothing to control rising costs.

New Jersey's levels of racial disparity in imprisonment are among the nation's highest, and the state devotes a larger share of prison beds to people convicted of drug offenses than any other. Justice Strategies has documented the impact of New Jersey's drug-free zone laws and the pioneering efforts of the state's sentencing commission to "right-size" the zones since 2005.