Sentencing Reform in Overcrowded Times: A Comparative Perspective / Edition 1

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Overview

Sentencing and corrections issues are much the same in every Western nation. Increasingly, countries are importing policies and practices that have succeeded elsewhere. In that spirit, this volume brings together articles on sentencing reform in the United States, other English-speaking countries, and Western Europe, all written by national and international authorities on sentencing and punishment policy, practices, and institutions.

Timely and readable, many of these essays provide brief yet detailed sentencing policy histories for countries and states. Others offer concise overviews of research on racial disparities, public opinion, and evaluation of the effects of new policies. Together, they illustrate the radical, precipitate, and hyperpoliticized nature of American sentencing reform in the last twenty-five years. Sentencing Reform in Overcrowded Times: A Comparative Perspective fills a major gap in the academic and policy literatures on this subject, and will be essential reading for students, scholars, and practitioners.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This book contains a great deal of importatnt information about sentencing, corrections, and about national and international efforts with respect to crime control. It is clearly written and well organized. It includes articles by leading and authoritative researchers in the correctional field. Most importantly, the book makes a strong intellectual case for correctional policies, which are empirically driven rather than driven by ideology and partisan politics, and for the wider use of alternatives to incarceration, espcially for non-violent criminals."--The Law and Politics Book Review


Richard Enos
This book is organized into five sections. The first, by the editors, consists of a general review of sentencing reform over the last three decades in the United States and in certain European countries. The second section is about sentencing reform in the United States. This part of the book contains developmental histories, descriptions and analyses of sentencing guidelines in thirteen states. The section includes an overview of national developments in sentencing reform by Richard S. Frase. It consists of information about types of guidelines in selected states including an excellent table that sums up sentencing guideline systems in 22 states; highlights the American Bar Association's new sentencing standards; and presents a comparison of some principle differences between the A.B.A. standards and federal guidelines. The remainder of this section contains a series of papers by various experts in the field through which notable sentencing reforms activities in several states are described and analyzed in Washington, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Delaware, Colorado, Utah, Kansas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The third section of the book is about sentencing reform activities outside the United States. The focus is on Europe. This section begins with an introductory statement by the editors which makes the point that although some American innovations in sentencing reform have been implemented by European countries, we have adopted very few sentencing reform ideas from Europe. The rest of the third section contains a description of prison population trends in Western Europe, and the implication of these trends; namely, prison overcrowding. This is followed by several in-depth descriptions and analyses of important examples of sentencing reform in certain European countries, including: England and some English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa, Germany, Finland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden. The fourth section deals with the issue of race and sentencing. The editors point out that although American sentencing reforms were aimed at diminishing racial discrimination in sentencing, the irony of these reforms is that they have instead exacerbated distinctions by race, particularly with respect to African American males. This is largely attributable to the vectoring of "war on drugs" policies upon disadvantaged neighborhoods; differential sentencing options for cocaine versus "crack" offenders; and, the tendency toward harsher punishment, mandatory penalties, and inflexible sentencing options for judges, all of which decrease possibilities for sentence mitigation. The rest of this section contains a number of articles about the prevalence of ethnic minority persons especially African American males in the criminal justice system. The authors document the increasing racial disparities in prisons and jails and in the juvenile justice system. The final section of the book explores the issue of public opinion and sentencing. The editors state that historically, whether crime rates rose or fell, rates of imprisonment continued to increase progressively. This phenomenon is usually explained by asserting that as the attitude of the public toward crime has become tougher, government officials have responded by escalating the severity of punishments and by enacting increasingly harsher policies. They editors frame the issue this way: "The key question is whether public attitudes became harsher, and public officials followed, or whether conservative politicians cynically used crime as an issue to frighten Americans and then offered to respond to those fears by enacting and carrying out harsh politics, in effect heightening fears and then promising to assuage them" 249. The answer to this "key question" may be found in the remainder of the final section, which is given-over to a number of articles that summarize national and international public attitudes about punishment. The content of these articles demonstrates that public attitudes favor alternatives to prison for a variety of nonviolent crimes. These articles, especially the one by Julian V. Roberts, summarize a number of studies which suggest that: the public is more supportive of community-based corrections than are the courts; politicians misread public attitudes about alternatives to incarceration; there is public support for rehabilitation efforts; public education about alternatives to imprisonment is very much needed; and, the media tends to inflame public opinion about punishment because it emphasizes the reporting of crimes of violence. Some material of the type found in this reader can be located at scattered sources, for example, at the Internet site of the International Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Policy. Nevertheless, this is an important book for persons who are interested in the field of community corrections. It contains, in one place, current information from a variety of empirical and descriptive studies about sentencing reform efforts, including sentencing guidelines, alternatives to incarceration, the impact of sentencing reform efforts upon ethnic minority persons, and the myth about public opinions regarding sentencing and the harshness of sentencing policies. The articles in this reader first appeared in a journal, OVERCROWDED TIMES, which the first author of this book, Michael Tonry, edits. Only 62 libraries hold that journal nationally; therefore, unless one has a personal subscription, availability of current material on this topic is somewhat difficult to obtain. The fact that this material is in one place is a plus. However, the downside is that policy changes in sentencing reform are ongoing at the local, state and national levels. Therefore, the material in this book can quickly become dated. Michael Tonry and Kathleen Hatlestad, along with their contributors, make a good case for the use of alternatives to incarceration, especially a continuum of intermediate sanctions. However, aside from the issue of research methodology, a number of persistent problems remain unresolved concerning the effectiveness of these types of sanctions. The list includes: the methods and processes for selecting offender participants the reliability of risk assessment as a product of current methods of classification, treatment planing and referral; which agency should administer the services the rivalry among probation, parole, jails and prisons concerning jurisdiction; and, the common problem that affects most criminal justice innovations: net-widening. In addition, despite the popular favor of some of these sanctions, we are not sure that they really work in terms of the ultimate outcome measure: reduction of recidivism. For example, many studies contain conflicting data regarding the effectiveness of electronic monitoring, boot camps, intensive supervision, community service, restitution programs, and so forth. Clearly, before we continue to promote correctional policies that emphasize alternative sanctions in order to deal with prison overcrowding and disparities in sentencing, we need to conduct more studies that focus on the rehabilitation effectiveness of these sanctions with respect to recidivism. This is not just a call for more research. What we need are more micro-analytic studies in order to evaluate the effectiveness of intermediate sanctions as types of differential rehabilitation interventions. To be able to do this, we will, at a minimum, need to control for the characteristics of the offenders participating in the programs treatment amenability, the nature and types of rehabilitation services correctional counseling/treatment techniques, and the training, education and experience of the staff administering the programs and services qualifications of the "therapists". In summary, this book contains a great deal of important information about sentencing, corrections, and about national and international efforts with respect to crime control. It is clearly written and well organized. It includes articles by leading and authoritative researchers in the correctional field. Most importantly, the book makes a strong intellectual case for correctional policies, which are empirically driven rather than driven by ideology and partisan politics, and for the wider use of alternatives to incarceration, especially for non-violent criminals.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195107876
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Minnesota
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Table of Contents

Contributors xiii
1 Sentencing Reform 3
Sentencing Reform in the United States 6
Sentencing Reform outside the United States 8
2 Sentencing Reform in the United States 11
National Developments 12
Sentencing Guidelines Are "Alive and Well" in the United States 12
American Bar Association Adopts New Sentencing Standards 17
Washington State 20
Washington State: A Decade of Sentencing Reform 20
Washington Prison Population Growth Out of Control 26
Sentencing Policy in Washington, 1992-1995 30
Minnesota 35
Minnesota's Sentencing Guidelines--Past and Future 35
Prison Population Growing under Minnesota Guidelines 40
Minnesota's Sentencing Guidelines--1995 Update 45
Oregon 49
Sentencing Reform in Oregon 49
Oregon Guidelines, 1989-1994 53
Pennsylvania 57
The Evolution of Pennsylvania's Sentencing Guidelines 57
Pennsylvania's Sentencing Guidelines--The Process of Assessment and Revision 62
North Carolina 69
North Carolina Prisons Are Growing 69
North Carolina Legislature Considers Sentencing Change 74
North Carolina Legislature Adopts Guidelines 77
North Carolina Prepares for Guidelines Sentencing 79
North Carolina Avoids Early Trouble with Guidelines 84
Delaware 88
Sentencing Reform in Delaware 88
Voluntary Guidelines Effective in Delaware 92
Other States 94
Sentencing Reform in Colorado--Many Changes, Little Progress 94
Utah's Conjoint Guidelines for Sentencing and Parole 101
Kansas Adopts Sentencing Guidelines 106
Ohio Adopts Determinate Sentencing 110
Massachusetts, Missouri, and Oklahoma Establish Sentencing Commissions 114
3 Sentencing Reform outside the United States 122
Prison Populations in Western Europe 124
England 133
New Sentencing Laws Take Effect in England 133
England Repeals Key 1991 Sentencing Reforms 136
England Abandons Unit Fines 139
Punitive Policies and Politics Crowding English Prisons 143
English Sentencing since the Criminal Justice Act 1991 146
Australia 148
Sentencing Reform in Victoria 148
Truth in Sentencing in New South Wales 152
Sentencing and Punishment in Australia in the 1990s 156
Other English-Speaking Countries 163
Sentencing and Punishment in New Zealand, 1981-1993 163
Sentencing Reform in Canada 168
Sentencing in South Africa 172
Germany 177
Germany Reduces Use of Prison Sentences 177
Sentencing and Punishment in Germany 181
Finland 187
Success in Finland in Reducing Prison Use 187
Sentencing and Punishment in Finland 189
The Netherlands 194
Sentencing and Punishment in the Netherlands 194
Netherlands Successfully Implements Community Service Orders 200
Other European Countries 203
Sentencing in Switzerland 203
Sentencing Reform in Sweden 211
4 Race and Sentencing 217
Young Black Men and the Criminal Justice System 219
Racial Disparities Getting Worse in U.S. Prisons and Jails 220
Forty-Two Percent of Black D.C. Males, Ages Eighteen to Thirty-Five, under Criminal Justice System Control 225
Fifty-Six Percent of Young Black Males in Baltimore Under Justice System Control 227
Drug Policies Increasing Racial Disparities in U.S. Prisons 230
Drug Policies Causing Racial and Ethnic Differences in Federal Sentencing 236
Racial Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System 240
One in Three Young Black Men Is Ensnared in the Justice System 244
5 Public Opinion and Sentencing 249
American Attitudes about Punishment: Myth and Reality 250
Survey Shows Alabamians Support Alternatives 255
Delawareans Favor Prison Alternatives 259
Pennsylvanians Prefer Alternatives to Prison 265
Oregonians Support Alternatives for Nonviolent Offenders 270
References 277
Acknowledgments 286
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