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June 27, 2006

New York makes reentry a sentencing priority

Thanks to the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), I have learned that the Empire State has recently made an important change to its sentencing laws to deal with offender reentry and public safety concerns. This paper from CCA, entitled "A New Sentencing Model to Meet the Challenge of Reentry and Public Safety," provides some details in its introduction:

On June 7, 2006 Governor George Pataki signed into law an important change affecting sentencing in New York.  Penal Law ยง1.05(6) has been amended to add a new goal, "the promotion of their (convicted person's) successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society..." (Chapter 98 of the Laws of 2006), to the four traditional sentencing goals of deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution and incapacitation.....

This legislative change is consistent with the reintegrative sentencing model that was developed by the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) in 2004 and championed by the Interfaith Coalition of Advocates for Reentry and Employment (ICARE), an alliance of communities of faith, direct service providers, and policy organizations including the New York State Council of Churches, Legal Action Center, Center for Community Alternatives, Reentry Net/NY and many congregations throughout New York State. In CCA's sentencing model, reintegration is placed at the core, and the individual returns to the community in a way that promotes public safety....

This amendment to New York's Penal Law marks a significant shift in sentencing policy by the legislature.  For 30 years legislatures and courts have neglected rehabilitation as a goal to be considered during the sentencing process (Garland 2001) in favor of the more punitive goals of punishment, deterrence, and incapacitation.  Identifying reintegration as a sentencing goal promises not only to restore the person's well-being as a focus of decision-making but also to extend that consideration, by implication, to the well-being of the community as a whole.  The new law will require every judge presiding at sentencing in a criminal case to consider carefully what kind of sentence will best help to promote the defendant's reintegration into society and recognizes that such reintegration is the best way to achieve public safety.

June 27, 2006 at 10:06 PM | Permalink


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A number of years ago, Pataki presided over the gutting of educational programs in New York Prisons, which at the time greatly increased idleness among prisoners. I do not know whether this has changed in the interim, but if it has not, the promise of this bill is hollow.

Posted by: David in NY | Jun 28, 2006 4:48:50 PM

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