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January 26, 2007

Important California report on sentencing reform

Professor Kevin Reitz, a state sentencing guru and the reporter on the ALI's on-going MPC sentencing project, sends this note about an important report released today on California's sentencing woes and need for reform:

Check out today's new report from the Little Hoover Commission in CA (a bipartisan research and policy commission with a good track record for high quality analysis and recommendations).  Among other proposals to address the prison crisis in California, the report strongly supports the creation of a permanent sentencing commission in California, authorized to promulgate sentencing guidelines and sentence revocation guidelines, and to be the research and information center of the California sentencing system. 

From the Executive Summary at iii:

[T]he State should begin a comprehensive evaluation of its sentencing system by establishing an independent sentencing commission to develop guidelines for coherent and equitable sentencing guided by overarching criminal justice policy goals.  This is not a short term solution, but a way to create rational long-term policy. Critics who suggest that a sentencing commission is code for shorter sentences are misinformed. Other states have used sentencing commissions to lengthen sentences for the most dangerous criminals, develop community-based punishment for nonviolent offenders and bring fiscal responsibility to criminal justice policies.

This strong report from a well-respected commission should give a shot in the arm to recent proposals for a permanent sentencing commission put forward by Governor Schwarzenegger and the majority leadership (Democratic) in the state legislature.

Here is some early media coverage of the report from the San Francisco Chronicle. And now here's more from the Los Angeles Times.

January 26, 2007 at 03:34 PM | Permalink


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Scathing report: "What has been lacking is the political will to solve the problem. Lawmakers afraid of being labeled “soft on crime” have allowed the correctional system to decay and as a result of their negligence, California spends more on corrections than most countries in the world, and reaps fewer public safety benefits." (p 13-14)

The report seems to put the Willie Horton fallacy in its place and demand a return to common sense. It even advises, gasp, bleeding heart liberal rehabilitation polices! Couple this report with the enlightenment found in The Undemocratic Production of Injustice and maybe we will make it through the current dark ages.

Posted by: George | Jan 27, 2007 2:56:38 PM

Student. The sentencing guidelines are amazing to me. I say that to say this, we must keep our communities safe. But, we rob the children in our communties by focusing more on the priosn system. Everyone wil be effected when sentences has been given, the victim, the criminal, the families, the community. We as a people must properly consider all the mental disorders that go undiagnosed. We must evaluate the criminal to make sure that the inmate receive proper care. Be it time in priosn or ina mental hospital.

Posted by: | Jan 28, 2007 6:42:20 PM

Please help. My then 19 year old nephew was sentenced to 13 to life in prison for beating up a police officer. He had no prior record. He's been in jail now for 12 years. The jury ignored the jury and imposed the harshest sentence ever on a teenage boy. The family is poor. The court appointment lawyer didn't care. I'm looking for a lawyer who can help find justice for this now 32 year old man who is a model inmate, takes college level courses and who doesn't belong in jail. Please help. I need a good, committed and skilled lawyer to take on this case.

Posted by: Denise Woods | Mar 7, 2007 12:37:45 AM

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