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April 10, 2005

Rethinking parole and its place in modern sentencing

The story of parole in modern sentencing is dynamic and debatable.  Followers of guideline sentencing reforms often think of parole, which has been abolished in the federal system and in many state systems, as a vestige of the rehabilitative model of sentencing.  But the recent report on parole from the Urban Institute (detailed here) is a reminder not only that parole remains a integral component of many state sentencing systems, but also that parole ought to have a central place in modern debates over future sentencing reforms.

Two recent news stories reporting on state parole developments provide an interesting perspective on these topics.  This story from Minnesota Public Radio discusses a bill moving through the state legislature that would re-establish a state parole board (which was eliminated in 1982 when Minnesota adopted its sentencing guidelines).  And this story from the Los Angeles Times discusses the state's decision to no longer allow parole violators to be diverted into drug treatment programs, halfway houses and home detention instead of being returned to prison "because there is no evidence the new approach is working."

As we consider parole in modern sentencing, the research from the Urban Institute's parole report (detailed here) and other empirical evidence of program effectiveness ought to play a central role.  In addition, as Professor Steve Chanenson has recently noted in his article "The Next Era of Sentencing Reform"  (discussed here), the new legal landscape that Blakely has created may suggest shifting some sentencing decision-making into the parole setting.

April 10, 2005 at 09:54 AM | Permalink


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