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August 23, 2004

Reasons for broader sentencing reconsideration

We now know that the Supreme Court won't be rehearing Blakely itself, but will be soon considering what Blakely means for the federal sentencing guidelines. But more than a few commentators have sensibly suggested that the whole Blakely mishegaas presents a critical and critically important opportunity to rethink not only major components of sentencing guidelines systems, but also major aspects of America's sentencing and punishment practices. (Of course, as detailed here, Justice Kennedy and the ABA were calling for such wholesale rethinking even before Blakely.)

Whatever else you might think of the Blakely decision, it has certain helped invigorate a needed national conversation about sentencing laws and practices. And a study I recently received from Margaret Love entitled, "The Diminishing Returns of Increased Incarceration: A Blueprint to Improve Public Safety and Reduce Costs," provides additional support for the notion that a wholesale rethinking of our punishment and sentencing practices is in order. The study collects an array of important data about the increased use of imprisonment over the last 20 years and argues that we have "reached a tipping point of 'diminishing returns' on our investment in prisons." The report, which can be downloaded below, also highlights various state prison reform efforts which have sought to reduce criminal justice costs while enhancing public safety.
Download dimishing_returns_report.pdf

August 23, 2004 at 07:55 PM | Permalink


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