Kennedy Commission Recommends Less Reliance on Incarceration

by TChris

As TalkLeft reported last year, the Justice Dept. was unenthusiastic about the ABA's Kennedy Commission, created in response to Justice Kennedy's criticism of the excessive reliance on incarceration as a solution to society's problems. The Justice Dept. is just as likely to spurn the Commission's recent conclusions and recommendations.

The primary conclusion should be obvious, although John Ashcroft is sure to disagree with it: "America's criminal justice systems rely too heavily on incarceration and need to consider more effective alternatives." The recommendations (summarized here - pdf) include:

  • Restoring proportionality by reserving lengthy sentences for people who do serious harm; repealing mandatory minimum sentences; giving judges the power to tailor sentences to the individual circumstances of the offender and the offense; permitting appellate review of excessive sentences; and developing effective alternatives to incarceration.
  • Requiring courts and law enforcement authorities to make greater efforts to eliminate racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions and sentences.
  • Expanding opportunities for sentence reductions and for relief from the collateral consequences of a conviction after a sentence ends (such as the restoration of legal rights).
  • Assuring that prisons are safe and professionally managed, and eliminating barriers to a prisoner's successful reentry to society.

The full report is available on the Commission's website.

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