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January 26, 2005

More evidence of a new sentencing reform politics

Yesterday I queried in this post whether we might be seeing a "new right" on criminal sentencing issues.  Today I have received another datum suggesting why policy debates about sentencing reform should start to be more nuanced than the old "tough" versus "soft" rhetorical labels.  This datum comes courtesy of the folks at Families Against Mandatory Minimums, who commissioned the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University to poll New Jerseyans about drug sentencing reform.  The results suggest little support for mandatory minimum sentencing in cases involving  low-level non-violent drug offenders.

FAMM has all the highlights of the poll here, including this fact sheet and this press release.  The full report from the Eagleton Institute is available here and makes for interesting reading.  Catching my eye were these passages:

When asked what they think would be the more effective approach for dealing with low-level non-violent drug offenders, New Jerseyans choose mandatory drug treatment and community service (69%) over mandatory prison time (21%) by a greater than 3 to 1 margin.  Preference for this type of sentencing for low-level drug offenders is similar across all demographic groups in the state....

[F]ully 4-in-5 New Jerseyans (80%) support using sentences such as mandatory treatment and community service for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders if it will reduce the amount of money New Jersey spends on prisons and the corrections system.

Among other insights I draw from these materials is a renewed belief that the US Sentencing Commission's data collection post-Booker ought to differentiate between violent and non-violent cases (as well as between first offenders and repeated offenders).  I would expect, as I suggested before here, that we will see a lot more judges following the (advisory) guidelines in violent repeat-offender cases, and that general federal sentencing statistics that blur categories of cases will not give us an accurate picture of what post-Booker reforms may be needed (or not needed).

January 26, 2005 at 03:03 PM | Permalink


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Can someone help me.. I need to fing information in regards to the state policy changing the mandatory 85% in violent crime committed (aggravated manslaughter for example) to 65% before being eligibly for parole.
If anyone out there has any information regarding this please be kind enough to email me..
thanks you
Raydelin hernandez

Posted by: RAYDELIN HERNANDEZ | Dec 14, 2008 9:52:19 PM

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