« More great news on crime rates from the FBI | Main | Any thoughts or insights about how Obama's lower court judges are doing on sentencing issues? »

December 20, 2010

Thorough and thoughtful pitch for sentencing reforms in Arizona

As detailed in this op-ed and in this press release, Professor Carissa Byrne Hessick at Arizona State University is making a thorough and thoughtful pitch for sentencing reforms in Arizona.  Here is part of Hessick's op-ed:

As part of the new Public Policy Incubator Program at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, several students and I recently wrote a report on sentencing reform in Arizona.  Drawing on recent reforms in states like Texas — a state that since 2005 has reduced both its spending on prisons and its crime rates — the report makes a number of recommendations.

Those recommendations include increasing diversion programs, establishing mental-health courts, expanding drug treatment and enlarging the ability of prosecutors and defense attorneys to plea bargain. 

The report also recommends the creation of an Arizona State Sentencing Commission.  The commission would collect data about crime in Arizona, study successful sentencing-reform programs in other states, and suggest further changes to the Legislature.   As many other states have recognized, an objective sentencing commission is necessary to prevent unsubstantiated beliefs about the criminal-justice system from stopping the development of sentencing policies that are economically wise and reduce crime.

The House of Representatives and the Senate should give sentencing-reform recommendations the serious consideration that they deserve, rather than resorting to the unthinking tough-on-crime politics that created our present problems.

And here is the start of the press release from ASU, followed by a link to the extensive report referenced here:

The Public Policy Incubator Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, tackling the issue of the state’s skyrocketing prison costs and a high crime rate, has released a report, “Sentencing in Arizona: Recommendations to Reduce Costs and Crime.”

The report proposes several changes, including increasing pretrial diversion programs, expanding mandatory probation for drug possession, requiring drug treatment programs to use practices proven to reduce repeat offenses, establishing a statewide system of mental health courts with specialized public defenders to deal with mentally ill defendants, and encouraging plea bargaining.  It also suggests creation of a Sentencing Commission to collect data, study successful sentencing reform in other states and suggest further changes to the Legislature.

“Adopting these proposals will not only reduce the costs of incarceration,” the report states. “In reducing recidivism, they will also reduce the other costs associated with crime, such as the costs of court, law enforcement, and the damage suffered by crime victims.”

Read the report here.

December 20, 2010 at 05:38 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e20147e0e17f17970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Thorough and thoughtful pitch for sentencing reforms in Arizona:

Comments

Thank you Professor Hessick and all the contributors to this landmark document. Arizona leads the nation in the incarceration of those with mental illness, being second only to the state of Nevada. If you have a mental illness in Arizona you are almost 10 times more likely to be in jail or prison than in any type of mental health treatment facility. The treatment of those with a serious mental illness in our prisons is remarkably similar to the treatment of the early 1800's before the crusades of Dorthea Dix. Ms Dix changed the landscape of mental health treatment where patient(inmates) were chained to the walls in prisons and jails. Today we have the use of solitary confinement for the most seriously mentally ill. If Dorthea Dix were with us now, she would think all her work had been done in vain. Thank you ASU College of Law for your voice of reason, justice and common sense.

Posted by: Mary Lou Brncik | Dec 23, 2010 2:15:52 AM

I had to refresh the page 2 times to view this page for some reason, however, the information here was worth the wait.

Posted by: Abercrombie And Fitch | Dec 27, 2010 3:17:42 AM

I had to refresh the page 2 times to view this page for some reason, however, the information here was worth the wait.

Posted by: Abercrombie And Fitch | Dec 27, 2010 3:25:41 AM

I had to refresh the page 2 times to view this page for some reason, however, the information here was worth the wait.

Posted by: Abercrombie And Fitch | Dec 27, 2010 3:25:58 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB