New Crime Reports Call for Prison Reform, Shorter Sentences

Call for prison reform are finally drawing attention from policy makers and members of the law enforcement community. Via the Scout Report at the University of Wisconsin:

Within the vast world of pressing policy problems, system-wide prison reform in the United States has been a subject that has vexed even the most dedicated experts and committed activists. Over the past four decades, the prison population has risen eight-fold, and people have laid the blame on everything from mandatory sentencing laws to economic restructuring in America's manufacturing regions.


This week, the JFA Institute released a
report which contains a number of thoughtful policy recommendations which have generated comments from criminologists, politicians, and judges. Some of these findings may prove to be controversial, as they include recommendations for shorter sentences, and alternative punishments.

The long-term effects of the current sentencing guidelines may have a deleterious effect on certain communities, as the report notes: "The massive incarceration of young male from mostly poor-and working-class neighborhoods, and the taking of women from their families and jobs, has
crippled their potential for forming healthy families and achieving economic gains." [KMG]

The first link [above]will take users to an article from this Monday's Macon Daily which discusses the release of the report from the JFA Institute. The second link leads to a nice piece of reporting from the Los Angeles Times on
California juveniles sentenced to life in prison. In terms of thinking about sentencing reform, the third link offers some interesting commentary from
the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine. The fourth link provides an additional perspective on changing sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenders via an interview with Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

The fifth link will take visitors to the complete text of the recent report published by the JFA Institute. The final link will take visitors to the Bureau of Justice Statistics site. Here, visitors can browse through hundreds of crime datasets and read press releases. [KMG]

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    And how much of the impetus is purely economic? (none / 0) (#1)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 04:59:40 PM EST
    Let's face it: America went of a prison-building binge from the 1980's onward in an attempt to incarcerate its' way out of the results of politically explosive social problems, such as illegal drugs. Prisons cost money to construct and staff. Money that is allocated from tax revenues...which are dependent upon taxpayers...who have to have decent salaried jobs to have incomes to tax. And a lot of those jobs are now being performed by people with strange sounding names in foreign countries...who obviously are not paying US taxes.  

    So, the 'champagne taste' era of "Lock 'em up and throw away the key!" is meeting the 'beer budget' realities of today's economy, where we can't even afford the key, much less the jail cell it goes with. It's long past triage time; time to decide what we actually want to be crimes that are deserving of the kind of incarceration once meted out to what amounts to penny-ante nuisances.

    The economic piper has been playing for twenty years, and now wants his due...and he will not be denied any longer.

    Decarceration (none / 0) (#2)
    by jeremy12 on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 08:30:32 PM EST
    I agree with the previous post. Prison populations will be reduced for economic reasons, although hopefully public enlightenment will come at some point down the road.