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August 24, 2004

Dollars and Sentencing

Many readers likely know that the paths of federal and state sentencing reforms have diverged in part because of economics. Even though the federal corrections system is the biggest in the country, state expenditures on corrections consume a much bigger portion of states' overall budgets. Thus, as highlighted by this terrific report entitled "Changing Fortunes or Changing Attitudes?: Sentencing and Corrections Reforms in 2003" produced earlier this year by the folks at the Vera Institute's State Sentencing and Corrections Program, states struggling with the "third straight year of severe economic crisis" took a series of "steps to lessen sentences and otherwise modify sentencing and corrections policy during the 2003 legislative sessions."

This recent article discussing a planned review of state sentencing laws and practices in Oregon highlights that, when it comes to sentencing reform, the almighty dollar might still be more powerful than the almighty Blakely. Though Oregon state sentencing laws apparently have big Blakely problems (details here), the article reveals that the public debate over Oregon sentencing reforms is about sentencing costs not sentencing procedures. Here's hoping that, on the playing field of sentencing, Oregon can get its ducks in a row.

August 24, 2004 at 09:21 AM | Permalink


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Anyone interested in the monetary implications of sentencing vs the social value should review the numbers quoted in the ABA's recommendations to Congress on reform(intro by Justice Kennedy). I got a copy from a link in this blog.

You'll see some interesting numbers as relates to the number of inmates in our country vs other countries and the increased amount of money spent on incarceration at the federal level.

We, by far, incarcerate more people per capita than any other civilized country. One might ask why. My pat answer for anything the feds do is "because they can." And they are using our tax dollars to do it.

Talk to your elected representatives and let them know how you feel.

Last look the Bureau of Prisons was out of money.

Posted by: Shelly | Aug 24, 2004 1:04:23 PM

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