New Report from Vera Institute – Recalibrating Justice

New report from Vera Institute of Justice on the state of sentencing in 2013:

Recalibrating Justice:  A Review of 2013 State Sentencing and Corrections Trends
Vera Institute of Justice
Ram Subramanian • Rebecka Moreno • Sharyn Broomhead
48 Pages   JULY 2014

imgres-1“In 2013, 35 states passed at least 85 bills to change some aspect of how their criminal justice systems address sentencing and corrections. In reviewing this legislative activity, the Vera Institute of Justice found that policy changes have focused mainly on the following five areas: reducing prison populations and costs; expanding or strengthening community-based corrections; implementing risk and needs assessments; supporting offender reentry into the community; and making better informed criminal justice policy through data-driven research and analysis. By providing concise summaries of representative legislation in each area, this report aims to be a practical guide for policymakers in other states and the federal government looking to enact similar changes in criminal justice policy.”

Conclusion from report:
“The legislation described in this report reflects the changing view of many Americans and their legislators about criminal behavior and the goals of sanctioning that behavior. The runaway expenditures incurred in recent years – at the local, state, and federal levels – on ever more prison and jail beds are increasingly hard to justify when recidivism rates remain high. The question then becomes if incarceration is failing to have a positive impact on as many as 50 percent of those who are released, what else might we do in order to achieve our desired public safety aims?  Some alternatives are described here:

CONCLUSION:

The legislation described in this report reflects the changing view of many Americans and their legislators about criminal behavior and the goals of sanctioning that behavior. The runaway expenditures incurred in recent years – at the local, state, and federal levels – on ever more prison and jail beds are increasingly hard to justify when recidivism rates remain high. The question then becomes if incarceration is failing to have a positive impact on as many as 50 percent of those who are released, what else might we do in order to achieve our desired public safety aims?  Some alternatives are described here:

CONCLUSION:

The legislation described in this report reflects the changing view of many Americans and their legislators about criminal behavior and the goals of sanctioning that behavior. The runaway expenditures incurred in recent years – at the local, state, and federal levels – on ever more prison and jail beds are increasingly hard to justify when recidivism rates remain high. The question then becomes if incarceration is failing to have a positive impact on as many as 50 percent of those who are released, what else might we do in order to achieve our desired public safety aims?  Some alternatives are described here:

  • More resources for and greater emphasis on early, community-based interventions for those with mental illness and addiction;
  • More services, interventions, and education for those on probation before they advance to prison and more serious crimes;
  • Keeping more offenders in the community to receive those services rather than sending them to prison; and
  • Providing recidivism-reduction programs for those who are incarcerated and offering incentives for participation.
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