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September 28, 2010

Effective new Vera report on decade of sentencing policy trends

The Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections has published this terrific new report titled "Criminal Justice Trends: Key Legislative Changes in Sentencing Policy, 2001-2010."  The report reviews key developments in sentencing legislation over the past decade, and here is how Vera summarizes its coverage:

Since 2001, many state legislatures have changed their criminal sentencing policies, increasingly emphasizing approaches that are “smart on crime.”  The three main areas of legislative reform involve redefining and reclassifying criminal offenses, strengthening alternatives to incarceration, and reducing prison terms.  This report is a reference for legislators, their staff, and other policy makers who may be considering or implementing similar changes in sentencing statutes and policies.

September 28, 2010 at 09:41 AM | Permalink


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In the lawyer Twilight Zone, "smart" is always a synonym for idiotic loosing of vicious predators, to increase the crime rate, and to generate more government jobs, especially lawyer jobs. For the left, it is always smart to be soft on crime, rather than to use proven incapacitation by sentencing guidelines, dropping crime across the board by 40%.

In 90% of cases, the charged pled crime is lesser than or unrelated to the actual violent crime originally charged. Thus loosing non-violent prisoners is a synonym for loosing violent prisoners. Welcome to the lawyer Twilight Zone.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 28, 2010 9:51:51 AM

I find it incongruous that a report purporting to cover the key trends in this area devotes only one sentence (plus a footnote) to the trend of increasing punishment/post-release restrictions on sex offenders. This is self-evidently one of the major trends in criminal justice/sentencing policy from 2001-2010, but I guess it just didn't fit the "smart on crime" narrative of the report?

It's fine with me if they want to write a report on "smart on crime" initiatives from 2001-2010, which is an important and interesting topic. Just don't give it a title that implies you are covering *all* of the "key" "trends" from 2001-2010, while omitting any meaningful discussion of at least one huge, key trend.

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