Tuesday, May 07, 2024

New report from Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth details the state of juvenile LWOP sentences in the US

Via email, I learned of this new report from the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth titled "Unusual & Unequal: The Unfinished Business of Ending Life Without Parole for Children in the United States."  Because this group advocates for the abolition of juvenille LWOP sentences, this report primarily laments that there are still a few hundred persons convicted as juveniles serving this sentence, though it notes the fact that "over the past decade, ... the population of [juvenile offenders] serving [an LWOP] sentence decreas[ed] by 85%."  

The report include a lot of data about juve LWOP laws and the (re)sentencing of many offenders in the wake of the Supreme Court's major Eighth Amendment rulings in Miller and Montgomery.  I recommend the short report to anyone eager to understand the current state of juvenile LWOP sentencing.  The report concludes with the kind of advocacy that has been a hallmark of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth:

A concentration of a few states have unevenly complied with Miller and the possibility of resentencing provided by Montgomery.  Some have refused to comply at all.

This uneven implementation of the Miller decision has a particularly profound impact on racial disparities among those serving JLWOP.  An analysis of those deemed worth protecting from JLWOP and those deemed fit for the sentence suggests that as long as JLWOP remains a sentencing option, it will be imposed in ways that produce arbitrary and racially discriminatory outcomes.  It will also be leveraged to legitimize the extreme sentences of children in other forms, that still fail to consider their unique capacity for positive change.

Miller and the ensuing procedures guiding JLWOP imposition have not been sufficient guardrails to combat these risks. States must go further to address these inequalities and recognize what science and common sense have clearly demonstrated: that children are categorically different from adults, less culpable, and should be provided opportunities to demonstrate their tremendous potential for positive growth and change.

May 7, 2024 in Offender Characteristics, Scope of Imprisonment, Sentences Reconsidered, State Sentencing Guidelines, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (14)

Monday, April 29, 2024

"Electronic Prison: A Just Path to Decarceration"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by Paul Robinson and Jeffrey Seaman now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

The decarceration movement enjoys enthusiastic support from many academics and activists who point out imprisonment’s failure to rehabilitate and its potential criminogenic effects.  At the same time, many fiscal conservatives and taxpayer groups are critical of imprisonment’s high costs and supportive of finding cheaper alternatives.  Yet, despite this widespread support, the decarceration movement has made little real progress at getting offenders out of prison, in large part because community views, and thus political officials, are strongly committed to the importance of doing justice — giving offenders the punishment they deserve — and decarceration is commonly seen as inconsistent with that nonnegotiable principle.  Indeed, almost no one in the decarceration movement has attempted to formulate a large-scale decarceration plan that still provides for what the community would see as just punishment.

In this Article, we offer just such a plan by demonstrating that it is entirely possible to avoid the incarceration of most offenders through utilizing non-incarcerative sanctions that can carry a total punitive effect comparable to physical prison.  New technologies allow for imposing “electronic prison” sentences where authorities can monitor, control, and punish offenders in a cheaper and less damaging way than physical prison while still doing justice.  Further, the monitoring conditions provided in electronic prison allow for the imposition of a wide array of other non-incarcerative sanctions that were previously difficult or impossible to enforce.  Even while it justly punishes, electronic prison can dramatically increase an offender’s opportunities for training, treatment, education, and rehabilitation while avoiding the problems of unsupported families, socialization to criminality, and problematic reentry after physical incarceration.  And, from a public safety standpoint, electronic prison can reduce recidivism by eliminating the criminogenic effect of incarceration and also provides longer-term monitoring of offenders than an equivalently punitive shorter term of physical imprisonment.  Of course, one can imagine a variety of objections to an electronic prison system, ranging from claims it violates an offender’s rights to fears it may widen the net of carceral control. The Article provides a response to each.

Electronic prison is one of those rare policy proposals that should garner support from across the political spectrum due to effectively addressing the complaints against America’s incarceration system lodged by voices on the left, right, and center.  Whether one’s primary concern is decarcerating prisoners and providing offenders with needed treatment, training, counseling, and education, or one’s concern is reducing crime, imposing deserved punishment, or simply reducing government expenditures, implementing an electronic prison system would provide a dramatic improvement over America’s current incarceration policies.

April 29, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment, Technocorrections | Permalink | Comments (32)

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

"What Is a Prison?"

The title of this post is the title of this new book review authored by one of my Ohio State colleagues, Grace Li, now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Tommie Shelby’s 2022 book The Idea of Prison Abolition sets out to compile and rearticulate the arguments for and against prison abolition -- using Angela Davis's works as the sole source texts.  In considering the arguments, he concludes that it is not necessary to abolish prisons and instead endorses reform.

In this book review, I argue that Shelby’s most helpful contribution in the book is not his analysis of whether prisons should be abolished but rather his elemental definition of incarceration.  To know what to abolish and when we have abolished it, we need to define what we mean by "prison."  I evaluate and extend his definition by culling some elements, such that the remaining elements are: "involuntary confinement," "in an enclosed space," "away from the general public;" and adding an element, "for a continuous amount of time."  I also add to these elements a list of harms that imprisonment inevitably causes.

April 23, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Purposes of Punishment and Sentencing, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (12)

Thursday, April 18, 2024

"The Secret History of the Carceral State"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by Laura Appleman recently posted to SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Profits have long played a critical role in the administration of punishment in America.  This Article provides one of the first full-length historical accounts of how the pursuit of private profits has shaped the American carceral system over time. It argues that deriving profits from punishment has been a crucial and formative aspect of American carcerality since our earliest days.  Although most scholars have focused on convict leasing in the postbellum era as the first major example of private prison profiteering, this Article shows how a predatory for-profit system of punishment well predates this, originating in the colonial era. The story of American corrections, fully told, reveals four distinct transformative periods over the nearly five-century evolution of American incarceration, ultimately explaining the condition of today’s carceral state.

In addition to providing a broader and more complete historical perspective, this Article also explains how the most recent inroads of privatized, for-profit correctional entities have overtaken the contemporary workings of the carceral system, causing chaos, abuse, and death.  The Article details the mechanisms through which seeking profits from incarceration has led to objectively worse conditions and outcomes for the punished.  Given the now widespread privatization and corporate takeover of so many aspects of the carceral state, from healthcare to food services and beyond, it is well past time to question the role of “Big Capital.”  This Article shines a light on the forgotten history of the American carceral crisis, tracing the role of profits from colonial days to the 21st century.

April 18, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Purposes of Punishment and Sentencing, Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Latest accounting of Jan 6 prosecutions and sentences

The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in Fischer v. US to consider the reach of a federal criminal statute used to prosecute some of the January 6 Capitol rioters.  Press reports suggest a number of the Justices were skeptical of how the Justice Department was seeking to apply federal criminal law.  I hope to comment on this front after I have a chance to listen to the oral argument.  In the meantine, the Washington Post has this new article with an up-to-date accounting of just how many persons have been subject to prosecution thanks to the events of Januarry 6.  Here are excerpts:

The investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack is already the largest criminal inquiry in Justice Department history, federal prosecutors have said. And even after more than three years, it has shown little sign of slowing down.

Every week, a few more rioters are arrested and charges against them are unsealed in Federal District Court in Washington. Prosecutors have suggested that a total of 2,000 or 2,500 people could ultimately face indictment for their roles in the attack.

More than 1,380 people had been charged in connection with the attack as of early this month, according to the Justice Department. Among the most common charges brought against them are two misdemeanors: illegal parading inside the Capitol and entering and remaining in a restricted federal area, a type of trespassing.

About 350 rioters have been accused of violating the obstruction statute that the Supreme Court is considering at its hearing, and nearly 500 people have been charged with assaulting police officers. Many rioters have been charged with multiple crimes, the most serious of which so far has been seditious conspiracy.

Almost 800 defendants have already pleaded guilty; about 250 of them have done so to felony charges. Prosecutors have won the vast majority of the cases that have gone to trial: More than 150 defendants have been convicted at trial and only two have been fully acquitted.

More than 850 people have been sentenced so far, and about 520 have received at least some time in prison. The stiffest penalties have been handed down to the former leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, far-right extremist groups that played central roles in the Capitol attack.

April 16, 2024 in Celebrity sentencings, Offense Characteristics, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (28)

Monday, April 15, 2024

Prison Policy Initiative releases new briefing with new data and visuals on modern jail growth

Emily Widra of the Prison Policy Initiative has authored tbis new briefing titled "New data and visualizations spotlight states’ reliance on excessive jailing."  The subtitle provides context: "We've updated the data tables and graphics from our 2017 report to show just how little has changed in our nation's overuse of jails: too many people are locked up in jails, most detained pretrial and many of them are not even under local jurisdiction."   Here is how the report starts (with links from the original, but footnotes omitted):

One out of every three people behind bars is being held in a local jail, yet jails get almost none of the attention that prisons do. In 2017, we published an in-depth analysis of local jail populations in each state: Era of Mass Expansion: Why State Officials Should Fight Jail Growth. We paid particular attention to the various drivers of jail incarceration — including pretrial practices and holding people in local jails for state and federal authorities — and we explained how jails impact our entire criminal legal system and millions of lives every year. In the years since that publication, many states have passed reforms aimed at reducing jail populations, but we still see the same trends playing out: too many people are confined in local jails, and the reasons for their confinement do not justify the overwhelming costs of our nation’s reliance on excessive jailing.

People cycle through local jails more than 7 million times each year and they are generally held there for brief, but life-altering, periods of time. Most are released in a few hours or days after their arrest, but others are held for months or years, often because they are too poor to make bail. Fewer than one-third of the 663,100 people in jails on a given day have been convicted and are likely serving short sentences of less than a year, most often for misdemeanors.  Jail policy is therefore in large part about how people who are legally innocent are treated, and how policymakers think our criminal legal system should respond to low-level offenses.

April 15, 2024 in Data on sentencing, Detailed sentencing data, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 12, 2024

New study highlights appellate reversals of excessive sentences in New York

This lengthy Law360 article, headlined "Study Shines Light On Excessive NY Prison Sentences," reports on an interesting recent student about sentencing reversals in New York.  Here are excerpts:

A recent report shining a light on excessive felony prison sentences handed down by more than 140 trial judges in New York over a 16-year period has experts and advocacy groups calling for increased transparency to help ensure that courts are imposing fair penalties on criminal defendants in the Empire State.

The study by judicial accountability nonprofit Scrutinize, in partnership with the New York University School of Law's Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, found that at least 140 trial judges in the state imposed prison sentences that were later deemed excessive on intermediary criminal appeal.  Of those, 65 judges saw sentencing decisions overturned on more than one occasion.  The 12 judges with five or more excessive sentence findings, meanwhile, had their sentences reduced by a total of 1,246 years.

The organizations urged the state judiciary to release sentencing data for individual judges that are currently not public, information they said could reveal patterns of oversentencing, and to publish an annual report summarizing excessive sentence findings to keep track of those trends....

According to the study, which looked at cases originating from the five counties of New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Orange, Rockland, Dutchess, and Putnam counties, two judges, Edward J. McLaughlin and Vincent Del Giudice, had a total of 39 excessive sentence findings combined, with the appellate court cutting a total of 684.5 years from the sentences they imposed. Justice McLaughlin, who presided over criminal matters in Manhattan, is now retired. Justice Del Giudice still hears criminal cases in Brooklyn.

According to the report, between 2014 and 2022, an average of 19,930 felony cases each year ended with a conviction after a guilty plea or a jury trial verdict.  In 2022, felony dispositions were nearly 15,800, but there were only about 1,100 appeals filed.  And, as acknowledged by the report's authors themselves, only a fraction — about 4% — of felony sentences are reduced for excessiveness on appeal.  That means that looking at overruled sentences provides an incomplete picture of judges' carceral attitudes.

The full study, which is titled "Excessive Sentencers: Using Appellate Decisions to Enhance Judicial Transparency," is available at this link. Here is its executive summary:

Increased focus on state judiciaries has significant potential to improve the criminal legal system.  Recognizing the need for evaluation metrics for judges, this report pioneers a data-driven, evidence-based approach to assessing the judiciary.  We analyze written appellate decisions to quantify individual trial court judges' decisions and impacts.  This methodology transforms complex judicial texts into accessible data, creating metrics of judicial performance for use by policymakers and the public.

This report introduces ‘excessive sentence findings’ as a method to assess individual judges’ decisions and their impact.  In New York, appellate courts review sentences for excessiveness and can reduce them in the “interest of justice,” a rare and clear signal — from highly-respected institutional actors — that a lower court judge made an exceptionally troubling choice.  We identify lower court judges with sentences reduced by appellate courts for being excessive and calculate the total number of years reduced from those sentences.

The study reveals patterns of repeated excessive sentencing by a number of specific judges, raising questions about judicial accountability in New York.

April 12, 2024 in Scope of Imprisonment, Sentences Reconsidered, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 11, 2024

"State Sentencing Reforms Had Little Impact on Racial Disparities in Imprisonment, Analysis Finds"

The title of this post is the the title of this new press release from the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) discussing the latest findings of research it has been conducting looking at incarceration disparities.  Here is part of the press release, with lnks from the original providing access to the underlying research:

The Black-White disparity in imprisonment has narrowed substantially over the past 20 years but very little of the progress can be attributed to state sentencing reforms, according to a series of reports released today by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ).

Following on previous analyses that documented a 40% drop in the Black-White imprisonment disparity between 2000 and 2020, researchers at CCJ, Georgia State University, and the Crime and Justice Institute examined more than 700 statutes adopted in 12 states between 2010 and 2020, seeking to understand how sentencing reforms might have influenced the reduction.  Laws included for study related to violent, property, and drug crimes, as well as parole release and technical violation practices.  The study states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah) varied by region, demographic composition, sentencing structure, and the political party in power.

With minor exceptions, the analysis found that the sentencing reforms had negligible impacts on reducing racial disparities, and instead largely codified changes to enforcement, policing, charging, and sentencing practices that had occurred before the laws were enacted. In addition, many sentencing law changes that took effect during the study period addressed fairly infrequent crimes and therefore had a minimal effect on disparity. 

The findings suggest that factors beyond sentencing laws were mostly responsible for the Black-White imprisonment disparity declining from 8.2-to-1 in 2000 to 4.9-to-1 in 2020. Though the study did not statistically assess alternative explanations, the authors offered several other possible reasons for the shrinking disparity, including changes in policing practices, drug use (from cocaine to opioids), how drugs are sold (from open-air markets to the use of GPS-equipped smartphones), and the types of crimes people commit (from burglary to cybercrime, for example)....

The 12-state analysis is part of a sweeping package on racial disparities released by CCJ’s Pushing Toward Parity project. It includes an in-depth look at the legislative changes in each of the 12 study states as well as two reports examining disparities in imprisonment through other lenses.

One analysis examined state imprisonment disparities between Hispanic and non-Hispanic White people.  It found that disparity in imprisonment rates declined during the first two decades of the century, but that the precise size of the drop is unclear because of a conflict between data sources. In 2020, data collected from state corrections departments showed a Hispanic-White disparity ratio of 1.5-to-1; data from a federal prison survey, however, produced a ratio that was 2.7-to-1, or 80% larger. 

The gap in disparity ratios derived from each source has increased over time.  In 2000, the two disparity ratios were roughly equivalent, but by 2020 the federal data disparity ratio was 80% larger.  The measurement gap stems from how race and ethnicity are recorded and classified in each source.  The choice of measurement method makes a large difference in the projected achievement of parity: if current trends continue, the Hispanic-White disparity measure drawn from state data would reach parity by about 2026, while the measure from federal data would reach parity about 30 years later.

Another analysis focused on disparities in female prison populations. It found that state imprisonment disparity between Black and White women fell by 71% between 2000 and 2020, decreasing from 6.3-to-1 to 1.8-to-1 and exceeding the drop for men.  The decline was driven by a 56% decline in the imprisonment rate for Black women and a 57% increase for White women.  Hispanic-White female imprisonment rate disparity also fell (by 56%) over the two-decade period, data from state corrections departments showed; it has been at or below parity since 2010 and reached 0.7-to-1 in 2020, meaning that White women were more likely to be imprisoned than Hispanic women.

Female imprisonment disparity fell across violent, property, and drug offense categories, with the largest drop recorded for drug crimes.  From 2000 to 2020, Black-White drug offense imprisonment disparity among women dropped from 8 to 0.6, reaching parity in 2016.  Hispanic-White drug offense imprisonment disparity fell from 2.4 in 2000 to 0.5 in 2020. Changes in the demographic composition of prison admissions drove the trends.  From 2000 to 2019, admissions decreased 47% for Black females, increased 15% for Hispanic females, and rose 138% for White females. 

April 11, 2024 in Data on sentencing, Detailed sentencing data, Race, Class, and Gender, Scope of Imprisonment, State Sentencing Guidelines | Permalink | Comments (26)

Friday, April 05, 2024

"How to Reform Correctional Mental Health Care"

The title of this post is the title of this new report authored by Stephen Eide of the Manhattan Institute.  Here the report's executive summary:

“Trans-institutionalization” refers to the shift of seriously mentally ill adults from the care of psychiatric institutions to correctional institutions.  Beginning in the 1950s, public mental health agencies have pursued the deinstitutionalization of the seriously mentally ill.  These government agencies intended to meet that goal through creating a system of community-based care to replace the asylum-based systems.  Deinstitutionalization did not succeed as planned.  Consequently, jails and prisons became the custodians of hundreds of thousands of seriously mentally ill adults who in previous eras would have been committed to an asylum.

Some dispute the magnitude of trans-institutionalization.  But no one denies the high rate of serious mental illness among the incarcerated, or that jails and prisons are poor settings in which to treat serious mental illness. Correctional mental health care now stands as one of the most important mental health care systems in the nation. Jails and prisons are legally obligated to serve the seriously mentally ill, whereas community-based systems are not. More effective community-based mental health remains an important goal to pursue.  But equally important is the reform of corrections-based systems.  Better correctional mental health care systems will benefit both community systems and the seriously mentally ill themselves.

This report will explain how corrections-based systems function.  It will place those systems in the context of debates around “jail abolition,” explain their workforce and financial challenges, and recommend the following reforms:

  1. State governments should assume more responsibility for funding jail-based mental health care.
  2. Correctional mental health systems have special responsibility to the seriously mentally ill and are justified in targeting resources accordingly.
  3. Collect, keep, and report better data.
  4. Repeal Medicaid’s Institution for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion.
  5. Correctional institutions should make more use of long-acting injectables during discharge.
  6. Eliminate overuse of administrative segregation (solitary confinement); do not abolish it.
  7. Do not use telehealth when reliance on onsite clinical staff is feasible.

April 5, 2024 in Offender Characteristics, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

"Excessive Punishment: How the Justice System Creates Mass Incarceration"

9780231212175The title of this post is the title of this new book edited by Lauren-Brooke Eisen and published this month by Columbia University Press. Eisen is Justice Program Senior Director at the Brennan Center for Justice, and this Brennan Center webpage provides this overview of the book:

Excessive Punishment contains 38 essays, by 45 contributors — practitioners, activists, academics, and thought leaders — who contributed their critical voices to highlighting the harms of the status quo and providing valuable insight into how we can move toward a criminal legal system that is smaller, more effective, and more humane.

The United States has by far the world’s largest population of incarcerated people. More than a million Americans are imprisoned; hundreds of thousands more are held in jails. This vast system has doled out punishment — particularly to people from marginalized groups — on an unfathomable scale. At the same time, it has manifestly failed to secure public safety, instead perpetuating inequalities and recidivism. Why does the United States see punishment as the main response to social harm, and what are the alternatives?

This book brings together essays by scholars, practitioners, activists, and writers, including incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, to explore the harms of this punitive approach.  The chapters address a range of issues, from policing to prosecution, and from how people are treated in prison to the consequences of a criminal conviction.  Together, they consider a common theme: we cannot reduce our dependence on mass incarceration until we confront our impulse to punish in ways that are excessive, often wildly disproportionate to the harm caused.

Essays trace how a maze of local, state, and federal agencies have contributed to mass incarceration and deterred attempts at reform.  They shed light on how the excesses of America’s criminal legal system are entwined with poverty, racism, and the legacy of slavery.  A wide-ranging and powerful look at the failures of the status quo, Excessive Punishment also considers how to reimagine the justice system to support restoration instead of retribution.

April 2, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (14)

Various takes on how much time Sam Bankman-Fried will likely serve on his 25-year federal prison sentence

The federal sentencing of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried to 25 years in prison for his frauds last Thursday has already generated a lot of discussion in blog comments, in various podcasts and in numerous press pieces.  I have a number of commentaries worth checking out (and worth skipping), but I have found especially interesting some pieces exploring the question in the headline of this Fast Company article, "How much jail time will Sam Bankman-Fried actually serve?"  Here are a few other pieces in the genre:

From Bitrades, "SBF Will Likely Serve Less Than His Full 25-Year Sentence"

From Business Insider, "Sam Bankman-Fried could go to a low-security prison and get out early if he plays his cards right, prison consultants say"

From Decrypt, "SBF Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison — How Many Will He Actually Serve?"

From the New York Post, "Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison — but how much will he actually serve?"

These pieces generally do a reasonable job explaining that SBF will get credit for the nearly eight months he has already been in jail, and also will likely get 15% off for "good time" credit, and also can get "earned time" credits thanks to the FIRST STEP Act.  But the cummulative impact of all these potential credits has clearly been added up differently by different folks as reported in the Bitrades article: "Some experts believe Sam Bankman-Fried could spend between 12.5 and 18.5 years in prison for his crimes at FTX."

Determining precisely how much time SBF "will serve" is challenging in part because the bulk of "earned time" credits from the FIRST STEP Act that he might accrue will not formally reduce his sentence, but will allow his earlier transfer from prison into home confinement.  (The USSC recently created this helpful page about "earned time" credits.)  If SBF were to leave prison, say, after 14 years, but then must be in home confinement for the next four, one perhaps could claim he "will serve" either 14 years or 18 years.  In the end, I suspect most people focus primarily on SBF's actual time spent in federal prison (and there surely will be more press about SBF leaving prison (likley in the late 2030s) than about the official end of his term (likely some time in the early 2040s).

I sense that the entire federal sentencing and correction system is still adjusting to the new realities in time "served" created by the FIRST STEP Act.  And for another SBF-inspired take on how the FSA now alters certain notions of equality in sentencing, Eric Fish has this new Hill commentary headlined "Why is Sam Bankman-Fried treated more leniently than someone facing illegal immigration charges?"

Prior related posts:

April 2, 2024 in Celebrity sentencings, FIRST STEP Act and its implementation, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, March 31, 2024

"Shocking Sentences"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by John B. Meixner Jr. now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Harsh recidivist sentencing penalties, like three-strikes laws, have been criticized heavily among both academics and practitioners on a number of different grounds.  Most arguments focus on how sentences arising from these penalties are disproportionate — that there is no sensible relationship between the wrong committed and the sentence imposed. Those critiques are valid, but there’s another important problem with recidivist sentencing penalties that has been overlooked: they lead to sentences that are totally unexpected — indeed, shocking — to the defendants who face them. Many recidivist sentencing penalties cause large leaps in sentencing exposure that amount to exponential growth when compared with a defendant’s prior sentences.

We can better understand the problem of shocking sentences (and how to solve it) by understanding the psychological phenomenon that likely causes it: the exponential growth bias.  Across a number of domains, people making quantitative decisions tend to presume linear growth will occur, even in light of evidence that the growth is exponential.  I argue that this phenomenon happens in sentencing as well, and explains — at least in part — why defendants don’t anticipate these types of sentences.

Understanding the psychological underpinning of shocking sentences helps us understand why they are harmful: they undermine due process and predictability in the law, they limit potential deterrence, and they’re out of line with everyday intuitions about sentencing.  Flatly, they’re bad sentencing policy, and we should reduce them or eliminate them outright.  But even if eliminating shocking sentences is politically untenable, there may be ways to reduce the effect of the exponential growth bias.  Applying lessons learned from the psychological literature, I suggest ways to provide increased notice of recidivist sentencing provisions aimed to make them less shocking.

March 31, 2024 in Offender Characteristics, Purposes of Punishment and Sentencing, Recommended reading, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, March 28, 2024

"Towards a Federalism(s) Framework of Punishment"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by Sheldon Evans now available via SSRN.  Here is its abstract:

Federalism and its impact on criminal punishment is foundational to understanding the failures of mass incarceration. Scholars studying the negotiation of power between the federal and state governments have highlighted the increase of cooperative agreements that allow these levels of government to accomplish mutually beneficial outcomes for their overlapping constituencies.  In the context of criminal punishment, however, such cooperation has devolved into a race to the bottom in a bi-partisan push to punish.  Consequently, this modern cooperative era of federalism has served to facilitate mass incarceration in many respects as a policy vehicle to accomplish a national tough-on-crime agenda.

This Article argues for a new conception of punishment that forms important synergies within a redesigned federalism system.  The core principle that connects punishment and federalism theory is their impact on the liberty interests of the individual.  This Article builds on this unifying principle of liberty to constrain cooperative criminal federalism from abusing its power and over subscribing to carceral punishments.  These unique tools that merge federalism and punishment theories form the federalism(s) framework of punishment, which leads to a set of policy outcomes in which the federal and state governments conflict, cooperate, and coordinate in different contexts with the goal of fully appreciating the liberty interests of the offender while increasing public safety.

March 28, 2024 in Procedure and Proof at Sentencing, Purposes of Punishment and Sentencing, Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Might Pennsylvania's top court pioneer new constitutional checks on extreme felony murder sentences?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by a notable case recenly accepted for review by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This recent Bolts article by Victoria Law. This piece should be read in full (like all Bolts pieces), though the full headline covers the essentials: "Pennsylvania Reckons with Its Draconian Laws on Life Imprisonment: Over 1,000 Pennsylvanians are serving life without parole sentences for murders they didn’t themselves commit. The state supreme court agreed to review whether this is constitutional." Here are excerpts: (with links from the original):

In 2014, [Derek] Lee, then age 29, participated in a burglary in which his accomplice fatally shot the homeowner. Lee had not been involved in the killing and wasn’t even in the room at the time.  Nonetheless, two years later, he was convicted of felony murder, a type of charge that prosecutors can bring against someone who was involved in a crime that led to a death, even if the death was unintentional or the defendant didn’t participate in the killing.

In Pennsylvania, felony murder is classified as second-degree murder, and all convictions for second-degree murder trigger an automatic sentence of life without parole.  These abnormally draconian laws have made Pennsylvania home to near-record numbers of people sentenced to die in prison.  The state has the second-highest number of people serving life without parole, nearly 5,100 people; approximately one in five have been convicted of felony murder. ...

Life without parole has frequently been proposed as a more humane alternative to the death penalty, but advocates for reform call it “death by incarceration.” Ashley Nellis, senior researcher with the Sentencing Project, points out that LWOP sentences allow for virtually no second chance no matter a person’s transformation or the amount of time that has elapsed.  “The state is killing you, just slower — and for a wider range of offenses or participation in those offenses,” she said.

Nellis points out that the expansion of life without parole has far outpaced the decline in the death penalty. The number of people serving life without parole has jumped 66 percent since her organization began collecting data in 2003, reaching roughly 56,000 people as of a 2021 report by the organization. In Texas, for instance, the number of life without parole sentences has grown as the number of those sentenced to death has dropped. “When you’re looking at a death sentence, you have a capital attorney and [other] special rights given to you because of the seriousness of the sentence,” Nellis noted, but those protections are not available to those facing LWOP.

March 17, 2024 in Offense Characteristics, Scope of Imprisonment, Sentences Reconsidered | Permalink | Comments (29)

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Prison Policy Initiative releases tenth edition of its flagship report, now "Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2024"

Pie2024-2XIt is pi day, which for the last decade has meant a special treat for sentencing fans and criminal justice data fans: the Prison Policy Initiative's latest, greatest version of its amazing incarceration "pie" graphic and associated report. The latest report "Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2024" provides a spectacular accounting of the particulars of who and how of incarceration in the United States. As I have said in the past, the extraordinary "pies" produced by PPI impart more information in a few images than just about any other single resource I know about (and this PPI press release has the main visual and other highlights). Here is part of this latest pie report's introductory text and  overview (links and format from the original):

The various government agencies involved in the criminal legal system collect a lot of data, but very little is designed to help policymakers or the public understand what’s going on. The uncertainty that results muddies the waters around our society’s use of incarceration, giving lawmakers and lobbyists the opportunity to advance harmful policies that do not make us safe. As criminal legal system reforms become increasingly central to political debate — and are even scapegoated to resurrect old, ineffective “tough on crime” policies — it’s more important than ever that we get the facts straight and understand the big picture.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have one criminal legal system; instead, we have thousands of federal, state, local, and tribal systems. Together, these systems hold over 1.9 million people in 1,566 state prisons, 98 federal prisons, 3,116 local jails, 1,323 juvenile correctional facilities, 142 immigration detention facilities, and 80 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories — at a system-wide cost of at least $182 billion each year.

This report offers some much-needed clarity by piecing together the data about this country’s disparate systems of confinement. It provides a detailed look at where and why people are locked up in the U.S., and dispels some common myths about mass incarceration to focus attention on overlooked issues that urgently require reform....

While this pie chart provides a comprehensive snapshot of our correctional system, the graphic does not capture the enormous churn in and out of our correctional facilities, nor the far larger universe of people whose lives are affected by the criminal legal system. In 2022, about 469,000 people entered prison gates, but people went to jail more than 7 million times. Some have just been arrested and will make bail within hours or days, while many others are too poor to make bail and remain in jail until their trial. Only a small number (about 102,700 on any given day) have been convicted, and are generally serving misdemeanors sentences of under a year. At least 1 in 4 people who go to jail will be arrested again within the same year — often those dealing with poverty, mental illness, and substance use disorders, whose problems only worsen with incarceration.

March 14, 2024 in Data on sentencing, Detailed sentencing data, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

"An Overview of Intermittent Confinement and Weekend Incarceration in the U.S."

The title of this post is the title of this research document now available via SSRN that I helped with through the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center along with Peter Leasure and Jana Hrdinova. Here is its abstract:

In the current study, we provide an overview of federal law on intermittent confinement, present data on the use of intermittent confinement in the federal system and weekend incarceration in the state system, discuss existing research on intermittent confinement and weekend incarceration, and present results of a survey of federal probation officers on their opinions of intermittent confinement.  Overall, the results of the study indicated that intermittent confinement and weekend sentences are rarely used in federal and state systems (relative to traditional incarceration sentences). Additionally, we found that a single federal district (Texas West) accounted for the majority of federal intermittent confinement cases across several years of data.  Results of the survey of federal probation officers showed that logistical issues with intermittent confinement and incarceration facility availability may be a cause for low numbers of intermittent confinement sentences.  The finding about logistical issues with intermittent confinement was consistent with previous research.  Informed by these findings, directions for future research are discussed in detail.

March 12, 2024 in Data on sentencing, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, March 08, 2024

Two very different perspectives on mass incarceration and views thereon

I came across two notable and very different pieces setting forth very different perspectives on modern incarceration policies and practices.  Both merit review, and here is a brief accounting:

First, from The Heritage Foundation, Zach Smith has authored "The Myth of Mass Incarceration Remains Strong — Despite All Evidence to the Contrary."   Here is how it starts and concludes:

Jeffrey Bellin’s new book is based on a myth. He believes — wrongly — that the United States is addicted to putting people in prison who don’t need to be there — hence the title of his book, Mass Incarceration Nation.  Despite his best efforts to portray his book as a nuanced account of the current state of the U.S. criminal justice system and its supposed ills, it’s actually an ideologically driven tome with a pre-determined conclusion: the states and the federal government lock up too many people....

Ask anyone on the street the following simple question: Should someone who commits premeditated first-degree murder be sent to prison?  Almost to a man or woman, each person asked will say, “Yes, of course!”  You will get the same answer if you ask them what should happen to rapists, robbers, and recidivists.  People convicted of these crimes are the individuals who today overwhelmingly fill state and federal prisons in the United States.  Yet these are the very individuals Bellin would release from prison to achieve his decarceration goals.  Maybe that’s the point.  He seems to say that the public shouldn’t have a say in how we punish certain crimes.  But that can’t be the way a democratic society operates.  It certainly seems obvious that where there is crime, there must also be punishment.  If not, more crime and more victims will be the inevitable result.

Second, FWD.us has a "poll memo" titled "New Polling Demonstrates Ongoing Support for Criminal Justice Reform and Policies to Reduce Incarceration."  Here is how the memo starts are a few additional reported poll findings:

Recent polling, conducted by BSG on behalf of FWD.us, underscores a significant and unwavering level of support for criminal justice reform among the American public. The data reveals not only high levels of support but also strong backing for candidates who advocate for policies aimed at reducing incarceration rates.

According to the poll, 78% of likely voters (LVs) support criminal justice reform, including 2 in 3 Republicans, 87% of Democrats and 82% of Independents. Across demographics there is strong support for reducing prison and jail populations, with particularly strong support among Democrats and Black voters. The poll also shows this support is largely unchanged from 2022, demonstrating that voters continue to want their elected officials to build on the progress that has been made to reform the criminal justice system.

The survey aimed to measure public perception of the functionality of the criminal justice system, attitudes toward candidates supporting policies to decrease incarceration rates, and public sentiment regarding crime. There is overwhelming support for many specific policy changes such as sentencing reforms, parole reforms, and the First Step Act....

Nearly two-thirds believe it is important to reduce the jail and prison population in the U.S., including half of Republicans and large majorities of Americans of color, particularly Black Democrats....  Voters are much more likely to say that mass incarceration makes communities less safe than they are to say that we are safer with more people locked up.... Nearly 2 in 3 voters believe that mass incarceration contributes to social problems, as opposed to only 1 in 17 who believe that locking more people up alleviates issues of homelessness, drug use, and overdoses.

March 8, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (10)

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Prison Policy Initiative releases "Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2024"

The folks at Prison Policy Initiative have released its latest version of in its "Whole Pie" incarceration series with this new report titled "Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2024" authored by Aleks Kajstura and Wendy Sawyer.  As I always recommend, everyone should click through to see all the great graphics and broader narratives that go with these reports. Here are parts of text from the start and the very end of this report:

With growing public attention to the problem of mass incarceration, people want to know about women’s experiences with incarceration.  How many women are held in prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities in the United States? Why are they there?  How are their experiences different from men’s?  These are important questions, but finding the answers requires not only disentangling the country’s decentralized and overlapping criminal legal systems, but also unearthing the frustratingly limited data that’s broken down by gender.

This report provides a detailed view of the 190,600 women and girls incarcerated in the United States and how they fit into the even broader picture of correctional control.  We pull together data from a number of government agencies and break down the number of women and girls held by each correctional system, by specific offense, in 446 state prisons, 27 federal prisons, 3,116 local jails, 1,323 juvenile correctional facilities, 80 Indian country jails, and 80 immigration detention facilities, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories.  We also go beyond the numbers, including rare self-reported data from a national survey of people in prison to offer new insights about incarcerated women’s backgrounds, families, health, and experiences in prison. This report answers the questions of why and where women are locked up — and much more....

The picture of women’s incarceration is far from complete, and many questions remain about mass incarceration’s unique impact on women. This report offers the critical estimate that a quarter of all incarcerated women are unconvicted. But — since the federal government hasn’t collected the key underlying data in 20 years — is that number growing? And how do the harms of that unnecessary incarceration intersect with women’s disproportionate caregiving to impact families? Beyond these big picture questions, there are a plethora of detailed data points that are not reported for women by any government agencies. In addition to the many data holes and limitations mentioned throughout this report, we’re missing other basic data, such as the simple number of women incarcerated in U.S. territories or involuntarily committed to state psychiatric hospitals because of justice system involvement....

While more data are needed, the data in this report lend focus and perspective to the policy reforms needed to end mass incarceration without leaving women behind.

March 5, 2024 in Data on sentencing, Offender Characteristics, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 04, 2024

"The Price of Criminal Law"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by Russell Gold now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Should tax dollars pay for more criminal law, better public schools, or a new community center? Different counties will answer the question differently, but facing these tradeoffs is profoundly important to democratic governance.  Nonetheless, because the criminal legal system diffuses power and hides and offloads costs, officials and voters do not have to honestly consider that question.  These structural features place a hidden thumb on the scale that gives counties more criminal enforcement than they pay for.  That is a problem.  Too much enforcement is particularly pernicious in criminal law: Incarceration inflicts tremendous suffering, especially in poor communities of color.  Suburban voters who do not live in or look like residents of overpoliced communities have no incentive to account for others’ suffering.  But if their tax dollars had to pay for the entire criminal law apparatus in their community, their financial stake might urge restraint.

Accountability poses a central challenge in criminal law.  Because power and funding are diffuse no one knows who to blame. This Article argues that budget constraints provide an important accountability measure for criminal law and that counties should be empowered to and burdened with making the hard choices.  It then articulates the goals to which a democratically accountable budget in criminal law should strive.  Such a budget would require government officials to be transparent in setting priorities and respect basic rights such as the right to counsel, the right against being caged in dangerous conditions, and the right to a speedy trial.  To protect these rights and respect budgetary balance, budget allocations for indigent defense, carceral facilities, and courts should limit the number of cases prosecutors can bring.  Ultimately, this Article aims toward a system in which criminal law is used only to the extent that a local community views its benefits as greater than the suffering it inflicts.  It is animated by the instinct that some communities would spend differently if they saw the full financial costs of criminal law.

March 4, 2024 in Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Louisiana legislature enacts slate of tough-on-crime bills urged by its new Gov

A helpful reader made sure I saw this local news accounting of the significant crime legislation that formally passed today.  Here are just some of the details:

The special crime-focused legislative session wrapped up early on Thursday after lawmakers passed all of the controversial tough-on-crime bills touted by Gov. Jeff Landry.

On the final day of the session, legislators approved HB6, which expands the methods of how Louisiana can execute death row inmates.  The bill added nitrogen hypoxia and the electric chair into the toolkit.  This is part of the effort of the new governor to resume executions. Louisiana has only put one person to death over the last two decades.  There are currently 57 people on the state’s death row....

Also given final passage are two bills that would require inmates to serve more of their sentences in prison. HB9 does away with parole for future offenders starting in August of this year.  HB10 also significantly reduces the amount of time that can be shaved off based on good behavior to just 15%.  HB11 extends how long someone has to be on parole, for those who still qualify, and adds further consequences for those who violate their parole.

Lawmakers also passed SB3, which will designate adults as 17 years or older in the criminal justice system.  This means 17-year-olds will be tried as adults when they commit a crime and will be housed in adult facilities....

In response to recent violent carjacking stories coming out of New Orleans, lawmakers passed HB7 to increase the penalty for carjacking to nearly double what it is currently.

There were many questions about how much all this legislation will cost.  The Legislative Fiscal Office estimated together it will cost millions of dollars a year.  However, legislators questioned their calculation methods and claimed it wouldn’t cost that much.

The bills passed now head to the governor’s next for signature and he is anticipated to sign them over the next week.

February 29, 2024 in Death Penalty Reforms, Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (2)

"Capital Trifurcation"

The title of this post is the title of this new article now available via SSRN authored by William W. Berry III.  Here is its abstract:

The death penalty is disappearing in the United States. Annual executions remain under twenty-five per year, and new capital sentences have not exceeded thirty in over a decade.

Over the past two decades, however, a new kind of death sentence has emerged—life-without-parole (LWOP).  In practice, LWOP and death sentences are functionally equivalent, as most death row inmates die of natural causes in prison, not execution.  For both economic and moral reasons, most states are not actively executing prisoners.

Therefore, capital sentencing proceedings that focus on life versus death neglect the more consequential question — life without parole versus life with parole.  That decision shapes whether one has a chance at life after prison or will die in prison, two very different outcomes.

But the capital sentencing process obscures this reality, at best, and at worst, does not even give the jury a choice.  It makes little sense to focus the jury on a hypothetical question of life and death while ignoring the real dilemma.  To that end, this Article argues for a rethinking of the sentencing procedure in capital cases.

First, the Article explains why mandatory LWOP sentences violate the Eighth Amendment, and why even if they don’t, states should abolish them.  Then, the Article advances its central proposal—the trifurcation of capital trials.  In short, states should split the sentencing phase of capital cases into two parts. In the first, the jury decides between life and death. If the jury chooses life, a second sentencing phase ensues, with the jury choosing between life with parole and life without parole.

Part I of the Article describes the LWOP problem of capital sentencing — that the procedures either (1) obscure the choice between life with parole and life without parole or (2) remove that decision from the jury’s discretion altogether.  Part II addresses the central barrier to capital trifurcation — mandatory LWOP sentences.  To that end, it argues for the elimination of mandatory LWOP sentences, either by constitutional or statutory means.  Finally, in Part III, the Article proposes capital trifurcation, explaining the procedural nuances of and the theoretical justifications for this approach.

February 29, 2024 in Procedure and Proof at Sentencing, Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (5)

"How many women and men are released from each state’s prisons and jails every year?"

The question in the title of this post is the title snd topic of this new Prison Policy Initiative briefing authored by Leah Wang.  The subtitle highlights the contents: "We’ve drilled down into 2019 data to show prison and jail releases by sex in each state and made our best estimates of how many women and men were released from prisons and jails nationwide in 2022."  These data are fascinating, both the state-by-state numbers and other breakdowns as well as the cumulative data, and they serve to highlight the massive number of people who are subject to some form of incarceration over the course of a year in the US.  

I recommend clicking through to see all the numbers, but I was especially struck that Texas had over a million total releases from prisons and jails in 2019 and California had just shy of a million total releases from prisons and jails that same year.  As a point of comparison, this means that each of these two big states likely had more persons emerging from incarceration than the entire population of states like Vermont and North Dakota.  (I say "likely" because I suspect there are some persons sent to and released from jail multiple times that get double counted in the data on releases.)

For another set of notable numbers, this PPI briefing calculates a total of nearly 11 million releases in 2019 (10,817,398 to be exact), with the total released estimated to have declined in 2022 to "only" 7,659,492.  Even that lower number for estimated 2022 releases is larger than the population of about 35 states; the higher number from 2019 represents a population large enough to be one of the 10 biggest states in the US.  Put another (silly?) way, if all persons released from incarceration in a year were aggregated into a single new state, that new state would get apportioned a whole lot of representatives and electorial votes.

February 29, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

"Reviving Rehabilitation as a Decarceral Tool"

The title of this post is the title of this new essay authored by Aliza Hochman Bloom now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

After advocates argued that circumstances attendant to late adolescent offenders make them less culpable for their offenses and better disposed for rehabilitation, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) held in January that it is unconstitutional to sentence 18 through 20 year olds to life without parole.  Last summer, Connecticut passed legislation providing a “second look” opportunity for parole to those incarcerated for lengthy prison sentences for crimes that they committed before they were twenty-one years old.  In 2021, Rhode Island decreased the amount of time that youthful offenders must serve before they become eligible for parole, but its highest court is currently interpreting disputed provisions.  Efforts to reduce lengthy sentences for late adolescents are grounded in scientific literature showing that “emerging adults” have great propensity for rehabilitation, rendering extraordinarily long prison sentences inappropriate.

Recently, national conversation has focused on reducing the front-end of incarceration, by shrinking police presence and decriminalizing drug and other nonviolent crimes.  Back-end decarceral efforts — so called “second look” sentencing and clemency initiatives — are either underappreciated or derided as reforms that legitimate a fundamentally unjust system.  While I embrace the need to significantly shrink the quantity of people in prison, sentencing reforms for emerging adults can meaningfully reduce our carceral footprint. Also, disproportionality by race in extreme sentencing suggests that late adolescents are particularly likely to be sentenced based on systemic racism and implicit biases in policing, prosecution, and sentencing, rather than unique characteristics or facts of their crimes.  Thus, effective “second look” efforts have the potential to address racial inequities.

This essay explores three state efforts to reduce the carceral terms of late adolescents, evaluating the advocacy strategies and compromises made to achieve meaningful reform. The Supreme Court recognizes that minors are less culpable, less deterrable, and more capable of rehabilitation than adults.  Significant research supports extending these findings to “emerging adults” — individuals under the age of twenty-five years old.  Should this rehabilitative lens, grounded in science, be effectively harnessed to the “back-end” reforms focused on those who commit crimes prior to the age of twenty-five, the potential decarceral effects can be widespread.  In the area of emerging adults and serious crime, criminal law minimalism means coupling the science about late adolescents with effective advocacy strategies to reduce our carceral population.

February 28, 2024 in Offender Characteristics, Procedure and Proof at Sentencing, Purposes of Punishment and Sentencing, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 23, 2024

Notable new analysis of notable (old) data on prison admissions

The data on prison admissions (from 2021) reported in this new Crime and Justice News item caught my eye this afternoon.  Here are the details:

A new analysis from the Council of State Government Justice Center found that despite recent declines, parole-probation violators still make up a large proportion of new prison admissions. In 2021, 44% of state prison admission were people who violated the terms of their parole or probation sentences. And on any given day, 1 in 4 people in state prison were incarcerated because they violated the terms of their supervision. Those proportions have remained constant, even as overall numbers have decreased....

Incarceration for violations of supervision declined in 2020 and, in many states, continued to drop in 2021.  Ten states — Colorado, Minnesota, Hawaii, New Jersey, Kansas, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Vermont — reduced admissions by 50% or more.  The declines are part of a larger trend: from 2018 to 2021, across the country, the numbers of prison admissions from community supervision decreased by one-third. Part of that was due to decreased criminal activity during the height of the pandemic, with the exception of homicides and intimate-partner violence. It was also affected by changes in supervision practices and court backlogs.

Researchers examining those states where supervision incarcerations fell — and where they didn’t — have found no significant relationship between changes in the number of people incarcerated for supervision violations and changes in violent-crime rates at state levels.  But in 2021, states collectively spent more than $10 billion incarcerating probation-parole violators. More than $3 billion of that was for technical violations, not for new criminal activity....

Racial disparities begin prior to criminal-justice-system contact and persist at all stages of the system.  When looking at parole and disparities, 18 states — including much of the Deep South —  did not exhibit disparities in revocation rates, while 20 states increased the disparities.  Twelve states — including Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — reincarcerated Black parolees at a 20% or higher rate.

February 23, 2024 in Data on sentencing, Prisons and prisoners, Reentry and community supervision, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

New Prison Policy Initiative briefing makes arguments against jail construction arguments

This new briefing from Prison Policy Initiative authored by Emmett Sanders seeks to undercut arguments made in favor of jail construction. The full title of the posting highlights its themes: "Cautionary jails: Deconstructing the three “C”s of jail construction arguments. Communities across the country have been told that investing in new jail construction is the only way to solve old policy problems, but arguments for new jails can leave them with a billion-dollar case of buyer’s remorse."  Here is how the briefing begins (with links from the original):

Arapahoe County, Colorado, is expanding its jail just four years after taxpayers rejected a proposition to raise taxes for a new one.  The justification for the $46 million expansion? Proponents cite the jail’s age, overcrowding, and a sudden sensitivity to the need to treat rather than warehouse people with addiction issues; the sheriff claims, “people’s needs have changed.”  $30 million will come from COVID-19 pandemic relief funds; as the ACLU notes, using relief funds in this way is expressly forbidden by the Department of Treasury.

Similar arguments are being used to justify jail construction all around the country.  Often, this means ignoring voters’ wishes, misusing and redirecting millions of dollars from community-based resources, and saddling citizens with decades of tax liability.  New jail construction projects regularly fail to meet promises, leaving communities to deal with the aftermath.  Drawing from examples across the country, we break down three common arguments for jail construction, discuss how they have been used to build or expand jails, and highlight how reinvesting in cages is not a solution to social problems like crime and substance use.

Jail proponents usually rely on one or more of three central arguments to make their case:

  • The “Capacity” argument: a bigger jail is required to house everyone being incarcerated in the jurisdiction;
  • The “Contemporary” argument: new construction is needed to update an outdated jail;
  • The “Compassionate” argument: new construction is necessary to treat incarcerated people more humanely.

On a surface level, these three “C” arguments are compelling because they speak to very real issues. What these arguments often overlook, however, is that these issues are largely driven by bad policies that have drastically expanded reliance on packing people in cages.  Essentially, the prevailing claim is that the only way to solve the problem of incarceration is to expand our ability to incarcerate — when in fact, communities would be better served by shrinking jail populations.  This sunk cost fallacy often leaves communities without real solutions and holding the bag for decades.

February 20, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Another reminder of the long life (and possible ending) of life without parole sentences

This local news piece, headlined "Man, 77, released from prison after serving decades for 1965 murder conviction," caught my eye because of the numbers involved.  Here is part of story behind the numbers:

A 77-year-old man has been released from prison after receiving a new sentence for a 1965 felony murder conviction, in the wake of a decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals declaring mandatory life without parole sentences for 18-year-old defendants unconstitutional.

Ivory Thomas was convicted in October 1965 at age 18 of first-degree felony murder for fatally stabbing 18-year-old Michael Railsback in Dueweke Park during a robbery. However, in 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court decided that mandatory life without parole sentences for 18-year-old defendants violate the Michigan state constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Judge Chandra Baker-Robinson resentenced Thomas this week to 40 to 60 years. Thomas was released Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections confirmed. He was serving his sentence at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer....

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office did not object to Thomas’ resentencing, according to a news release. Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office said Thomas has community support and Railsback’s family does not object to his release.

February 15, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment, Sentences Reconsidered | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, February 08, 2024

GAO releases big report examining BOP's use of "restrictive housing"

The United States Government Accountability Office recently released this big new report titled "Bureau of Prisons: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Restrictive Housing Practices." An introduction one-page to the document discusses "Why GAO Did This Study" and "What GAO Recommends" and "What GAO Found," and here are excerpts from this discussion:

DOJ’s BOP is responsible for confining individuals in safe, humane, and appropriately secure conditions. In certain circumstances, such as alleged or substantiated violence, BOP can move individuals to restrictive housing, and generally isolate them in cells for up to 23 hours per day. As of October 2023, BOP continued to house about 8 percent of its population (about 12,000 individuals) in these settings. Strengthening management of federal prisons was added to GAO’s high-risk list earlier this year.

Among its objectives, GAO was asked to examine the extent to which BOP (1) addressed recommendations from two prior restrictive housing studies; and (2) leveraged facility information to ensure restrictive housing policy compliance and enhance operations.

GAO analyzed BOP policies and data; interviewed BOP officials; and conducted non-generalizable interviews with staff and incarcerated individuals at five BOP facilities— selected to cover a range of restrictive housing unit types.

GAO is making eight recommendations to BOP, including that it assign responsibility and establish time frames for recommendation implementation and identify the cause of racial disparity in SMU placements. BOP concurred with the eight recommendations but raised related concerns; GAO discusses these in the report.

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has not fully implemented 54 of the 87 recommendations from two prior studies on improving restrictive housing practices. The first study, completed by a BOP contractor in 2014, had 34 recommendations (16 of which are fully implemented.) The other evaluation, completed in 2016 by the Department of Justice (DOJ), had 53 recommendations (17 of those are fully implemented). A May 2022 Executive Order on criminal justice practices directed the Attorney General to ensure full implementation of the January 2016 recommendations. BOP has made slow progress due in part to not assigning responsibility for recommendation implementation to appropriate officials and not establishing associated time frames for completion....

During the 2014 contracted assessment, reviewers found inconsistencies in the application of subjective criteria used to place individuals in the special management unit (SMU)—one that is designed for individuals with heightened security concerns. GAO’s analysis of 2022 data appears to confirm that inconsistencies continued, resulting in equity concerns. Black individuals were 38 percent of the total BOP population but 59 percent of the SMU placements. In comparison, White individuals were 58 percent of the total BOP population and 35 percent of the SMU placements. In response to management challenges, earlier this year BOP closed its remaining SMU and has not yet decided on the future of such units. Analyzing the cause of the substantial racial disparity could inform BOP and DOJ decisions on the future of restricted housing and help ensure consistent and equitable treatment of incarcerated individuals.

February 8, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Race, Class, and Gender, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, February 01, 2024

"The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions: Deinstitutionalization and Mass Incarceration Nation"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by Corinna Lain now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and our failed implementation of deinstitutionalization in the 1970s is a prime example of the point. In this symposium contribution — a response to Jeffrey Bellin’s book Mass Incarceration Nation — I offer a historical account of deinstitutionalization of state mental hospitals, tracing how severely mentally ill patients were discharged from state hospitals and eventually made their way back to secure beds, but in our nation’s jails and prisons instead.  Mental health and mass incarceration are not separate crises, I argue, but rather interconnected problems with an interconnected past that require an interconnected solution.  The lessons of deinstitutionalization’s failures can inform how our decarceration story plays out, offering an opportunity to avoid the mistakes of our past and move toward a more just, humane, and equitable future — a future that takes the “mass” out of mass incarceration.

February 1, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Notable data on the huge number of LWOP sentences in Louisiana

Death penalty practices in general, and individual death sentences in particular, garner a lot of attention in the US.  I understand how a wide array of salient capital issues and cases keeps these matters "evergreen" in legal and political discourse, even though I have long worried about capital cases and concerns problematically crowding out other matters of broader consequence.  (Many years ago, I wrote up some of these worries with a Supreme Court focus in an article titled "A Capital Waste of Time? Examining the Supreme Court's 'Culture of Death'."  Notably, for a host of reasons, the SCOTUS capital docket has shrunk considerably since I penned that piece in 2008.)

These concerns came to mind for me upon seeing this new Sentencing Project fact sheet titled "Life in Prison Without Parole in Louisiana."  The LWOP data in this document struck me in part because of how much attention was given in 2023 to possible clemency hearings for the 57 persons on Louisiana's death row after outgoing Gov John Bel Edwards said he opposed capital punishment (see some prior posts here and here.)  Gov Edwards got some attention, as detailed here, for commuting over 100 LWOP sentences, though seemingly the bulk of national advocacy and attention was given to a few dozen capital murders rather than the few thousand serving LWOP often for lesser crimes.  The start of the data brief documents the Pelican State's massive LWOP population:  

Louisiana’s share of people serving life without parole (LWOP) ranks highest per capita nationally and in the world. More than 4,000 Louisianans are serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole, amounting to 15% of this state’s prison population.  Between 1995 and 2020, the state added an average of 110 people each year to its total count of life-sentenced individuals.

A major driver behind the large share of people serving LWOP is the state’s automatic imposition of this sentence after conviction for second degree murder, making it one of only two states to impose LWOP in such instances.  Louisiana’s second degree murder statute includes felony murder and drug induced homicide offenses; these cases often include instances where the charged individual was not the direct perpetrator of the killing, nor intended to commit it, though they participated in an underlying felony related to the victim’s death.  It is important to note that felony murder laws such as that in Louisiana are not associated with a significant reduction in felonies nor have they lowered the number of felonies that become deadly.  These crime types are infrequently subject to LWOP sentences elsewhere, much less mandatorily imposed.  But in Louisiana, LWOP in response to second degree murder is both authorized and mandatory.

To provide a bit more perspective on these numbers, there are roughly twice as many persons serving LWOP sentences just in Louisiana than there are persons on death row throughout the United States.  (The Sentencing Project has calculated in prior reports that there are, roughly speaking, about 100 persons serving some form of a life sentence in the US for every person on death row.)

January 24, 2024 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment, State Sentencing Guidelines | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 18, 2024

"'Mass Incarceration' Myths and Facts: Aiming Reform at the Real Problems"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Paul Robinson and Jeffrey Seaman now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Few claims have won such widespread acceptance in legal academia as the “mass incarceration” narrative: the idea that the rise in America’s prison population over the last half century was fueled largely by the needless and unjust imprisonment of millions of criminal offenders due to punitive changes in sentencing.  To many academics and activists, the question is not how accurate the mass incarceration narrative is, but how mass incarceration can be ended.  This Article argues the “mass incarceration” narrative is based on a series of myths and, as a result, many proposed reforms are based on a misunderstanding of America’s past and present carceral practices.  A more accurate understanding is needed to produce effective reform.

The central myth of the mass incarceration narrative is that exceptional and unjustified punitiveness largely explains America’s significant increase in prison population since the 1960s.  This explanation overlooks the numerous non-sentencing factors that increased incarceration: a near doubling in U.S. population, higher crime rates, increased justice system effectiveness, deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, new and tightened criminalizations, worsening criminal offender histories, and more.  While this Article makes no attempt at statistical precision, these non-sentencing factors can easily explain most of America’s elevated incarceration compared to the 1960s — a fact in direct conflict with the mass incarceration narrative.  Additionally, while some punishments have increased in severity since the 1960s, most of these increases are likely to be seen as moving sentences closer to what the community – and many incarceration reformers – would believe is appropriate and just, as in cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, firearm offenses, and child pornography, among others.

Comparing America’s prison population to foreign countries, as the mass incarceration narrative often does, similarly overlooks the contributions of many of these non-sentencing factors and incorrectly assumes that a higher American per capita incarceration rate always reflects a problem with American, instead of foreign, practice.  While America can certainly learn from foreign countries, the reality is that many foreign sentencing practices have sparked chronic and widespread dissatisfaction abroad.  It may be that the dispute over incarceration practices is more a dispute between the elites and the community than a dispute between the U.S. and other democracies’ populations.

While all decarceration reformers should welcome a clearer picture of America’s incarceration practices, it is hard not to conclude that many mass incarceration myths were created deliberately by those who oppose not only incarceration but punishment generally.  For these activists, the mass incarceration narrative is primarily a means toward eliminating punishment, a goal that is difficult to pursue directly because it is so contrary to the views of the general population and even a majority of academia.

This Article is not pro-incarceration.  It subjects the mass incarceration narrative to much needed scrutiny precisely because reforming incarceration practices is necessary.  The criminal justice system should strive to deliver just punishment in the most societally beneficial way, which we believe means increasing the use of non-incarcerative sanctions.  The myths of the mass incarceration narrative frequently lead activists to overlook non-incarcerative reforms that deliver just punishment — a tragic failure because such reforms would have much stronger popular support than the anti-punishment or unsophisticated anti-prison reforms now pushed by the mass incarceration narrative.

Part I of the Article describes the mass incarceration myths that have become so broadly accepted.  Part II reviews the facts of American incarceration practice, which contradict many, if not most, aspects of the narrative.  Part III offers our reform proposals, which we believe more accurately address the problems in current incarceration practice. Central to those proposals are the use of creative non-incarcerative sanctions that still deliver punishment proportional to a nuanced assessment of each offender’s moral blameworthiness.

January 18, 2024 in Criminal Sentences Alternatives, Prisons and prisoners, Purposes of Punishment and Sentencing, Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (9)

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

New Prison Policy Initiative briefing explores reported 2022 increase in incarcerated persons in US

Over at the Prison Policy Initiative, Wendy Sawyer has this new briefing titled "Why did prison and jail populations grow in 2022 — and what comes next?".  Like so many PPI reports, this one st filled with interesting data and helpful graphics.  It begins this way (link from the original):

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) recently released its annual reports on prison and jail populations in 2022, noting that the combined state and federal prison populations had increased for the first time in almost a decade and that jail populations had reached 90% of their pre-pandemic level. But what’s behind these trends? Do they just reflect another year of post-pandemic “rebound” or longer-term changes in crime or punishment? And what do these trends suggest about the road ahead for those working to end mass incarceration?

To answer these questions, we looked closely at the annual BJS data as well as 2022 crime and victimization data and criminal court case processing to get a better idea of the reasons behind the new numbers. We also looked at some more recent 2023 jail and prison data to see whether the 2022 uptick appears to have continued in 2023 (spoiler: it does). Finally, we looked at reports from over 20 states to see how states themselves understand these trends, and where they foresee their correctional populations heading in the future.

Ultimately, we conclude that these populations are increasing and can be expected to continue to climb in the next few years, not because of changes in crime but because (a) courts have largely recovered from the slowdowns caused by the pandemic and (b) many states have rolled back sensible criminal legal system reforms — or worse, have enacted legislation that will keep more people behind bars longer, despite decades of evidence that such policies don’t enhance public safety.

December 20, 2023 in Data on sentencing, Detailed sentencing data, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Bureau of Justice Statistics releases "Jail Inmates in 2022 -- Statistical Tables"

The Bureau of Justice Statistics this morning published a lot of new data about jail populations as of 2022.  This press release, titled "Local jails held 4% more people in 2022 than in 2021," provides these highlights regarding the data detailed in this 30-page report:

At midyear 2022, local jails held 663,100 persons in custody, 4% more than the year before and 21% more than at midyear 2020.  The number of persons in jail custody saw a 25% decline from 2019 to 2020 as local authorities reduced admissions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Though the jail population declined during the pandemic, by midyear 2022 it was back to 90% of its midyear 2019 size,” said BJS Acting Director Kevin M. Scott, PhD.

At midyear 2022, there were:

• 505,700 inmates held for a felony offense, accounting for 76% of the jail population

• 199 jail inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, down from 237 per 100,000 at midyear 2012

• 915,900 jail beds in the United States, 72% of which were occupied

• 4.0 jail inmates for every correctional officer, up from 3.6 at midyear 2021 and 3.0 at midyear 2020.

From July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, persons admitted to jails spent an average of 32 days in custody before release, longer than the 23-day average a decade prior.  About 1,300 persons served weekend-only sentences on the weekend before the last weekday in June 2022, down from 10,400 in 2012. 

There were 92,900 females in local jails at midyear 2022, who accounted for 14% of the jail inmate population. From 2021 to 2022, the number of females in jail increased 9%, while the number of males increased 3%. From 2012 to 2022, the number of persons age 17 or younger in jail decreased from 5,400 to 1,900, averaging a 10% decline each year.

The racial and ethnic composition of the jail population remained stable from 2021 to 2022. At midyear 2022, about 48% of all persons held in jail were white, 35% were black and 14% were Hispanic.  American Indian or Alaska Native persons, Asian persons, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander persons and persons of two or more races together accounted for 3% of the total jail population.  From midyear 2012 to midyear 2022, the jail incarceration rate for Hispanic persons decreased at an average annual rate of 3.7%.  The rate decreased, on average, at 2.4% a year for black persons and 0.7% a year for white persons.

December 14, 2023 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

"The Role of Policy in Prison Growth and Decline"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new working paper available via SSRN and authored by Derek Neal and Armin Rick. Here is its abstract:

Between 1975 and 2008, the US incarceration rate increased by roughly 400 percent.  Trends in crime rates, arrest rates per crime committed, conviction rates per arrest, and expected time-served in prison given conviction all influence trends in incarceration rates.  Available data do not allow researchers to precisely measure the contribution of each of these factors to the US prison boom.  However, increases in expected prison time-served among those arrested for many different offenses were the most important drivers of rising incarceration rates.  We argue that changes in policies that govern sentencing and parole are the likely drivers of these increases.  We also discuss potential reforms that may reduce expected time-served among convicted offenders while minimizing harm to public safety.

December 12, 2023 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Sentencing Project produces new fact sheets on "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Youth Incarceration"

I received via email an alter that The Sentencing Project has produced "new fact sheets show state-by-state incarceration rates by race and ethnicity" with respect to "youth incarceration."  These facts sheets are accessible at this link, and here is how the work is described at that webpage:

Despite significant drops in youth incarceration over a decade, youth of color remain vastly more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers.  New data released today by The Sentencing Project reveal Black youth and Tribal youths’ disproportionate incarceration is largely unchanged compared to 10 years prior, while Latinx youths’ incarceration disparities with their white peers have been reduced.

The Sentencing Project’s new fact sheets show state-by-state incarceration rates by race and ethnicity and highlight where the problem is getting worse and better.

December 12, 2023 in Data on sentencing, Detailed sentencing data, Offender Characteristics, Prisons and prisoners, Race, Class, and Gender, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 07, 2023

"Firearms Carceralism"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new article authored by Jacob Charles and now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Gun violence is a pressing national concern.  And it has been for decades.  Throughout nearly all that time, the primary tool lawmakers have deployed to staunch the violence has been the machinery of the criminal law.  Increased policing, intrusive surveillance, vigorous prosecution, and punitive penalties are showered on gun offenders.  This Article spotlights and specifies this approach — what it calls “firearms carceralism” — and details how a decades-long bipartisan consensus generated a set of state-centered solutions to gun violence that has not meaningfully impacted the problem.  Instead, those policies have exacerbated racial inequity and compounded civic and community harms.

The Article traces the escalating punitive measures visited on gun offenders over the past half century.  It first peers down into one microcosmic exemplar of firearms carceralism etched into federal mandatory minimum provisions and Supreme Court case law magnifying those penalties.  It describes how criminal justice reforms have traditionally excluded those whose offenses are categorized as violent, and specifically and emphatically those who offend with guns by their side.  It then draws out promising hints of a path to including gun offenders in efforts to reform the criminal legal system.  Most fundamentally, however, the Article wages a sustained critique of the system of firearms carceralism that fronts aggressive law enforcement and draconian terms of incarceration.  It describes the unjustifiable breadth and depth of these practices and the harmful, racialized, and exclusionary values they simultaneously draw from and reinscribe.

Finally, the Article argues in favor of three alternative paths for equitable peace and safety.  First, it outlines private sector steps to, for example, dampen illicit firearms supply.  Second, it highlights civil legal interventions like red flag laws and tort lawsuits against irresponsible gun sellers.  Third, and most prominently, it underscores the promise of community violence intervention and restorative justice programs to bring meaningful safety apart from the carceral tools of coercive control.

December 7, 2023 in Gun policy and sentencing, Mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, Offense Characteristics, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Sentencing Project releases latest report on racial disparities, "One in Five: Racial Disparity in Imprisonment - Causes and Remedies"

As noted in this October post, The Sentencing Project is "producing a series of four reports examining both the narrowing and persistence of racial injustice in the criminal legal system, as well as highlighting promising reforms."  Today, The Sentencing Project released this latest report in this series, the third I believe, titled "One in Five: Racial Disparity in Imprisonment — Causes and Remedies."  Here is part of this new report's executive summary:

The United States experienced a 25% decline in its prison population between 2009, its peak year, and 2021.  While all major racial and ethnic groups experienced decarceration, the Black prison population has downsized the most.  But with the prison population in 2021 nearly six times as large as 50 years ago and Black Americans still imprisoned at five times the rate of whites, the crisis of mass incarceration and its racial injustice remain undeniable. What’s more, the progress made so far is at risk of stalling or being reversed.

This third installment of the One in Five6 series examines three key causes of racial inequality from within the criminal legal system. While the consequences of these policies and issues continue to perpetuate racial and ethnic disparities, at least 50 jurisdictions around the country — including states, the federal government, and localities — have initiated promising reforms to lessen their impact.

1. Laws and policies that appear race-neutral have a disparate racial impact....

2. Racial bias influences criminal legal practitioners’ use of discretion....

3. A financially burdensome and under-resourced criminal legal system puts people with low incomes, who are disproportionately people of color, at a disadvantage....

Prior related posts:

December 7, 2023 in Prisons and prisoners, Race, Class, and Gender, Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 17, 2023

"Best Practices: Report on Improving Veterans’ Incarceration and Reentry in Florida"

Though I have missed Veterans Day by almost a week, I am still glad that I did not entirely miss this new report from the Florida Policy Project that has the title of this post. Here are some passages from the start of the report:

Efforts have been made to limit veterans' exposure to incarceration.  While these efforts may be diverting some veterans from prison, many veterans are still incarcerated in Florida and will eventually return to their communities. Understanding how to improve their incarceration experience and lower barriers to reentry will ensure that Florida's veterans have access to the services they earned and return to their communities better than when they left them. This report describes the problems Florida's incarcerated veterans face and offers examples of programs that could be implemented to help reduce recidivism and improve reentry....

Justice involved veterans have garnered increased attention in recent years. Several practices have been deployed to help divert veterans from incarceration.  The Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) program and the increased use of Veterans' Treatment Courts have helped respond to the needs of justice-involved veterans while maintaining accountability for criminal activity.  Despite these efforts, many veterans find themselves incarcerated in prisons around the country.  Although national estimates suggest that over 96,000 veterans are incarcerated in state prisons in the United States (accounting for about 8% of all people incarcerated in state prisons) many states underestimate their incarcerated veteran population.  For example, based on data from inmate self-identification, California estimated their incarcerated veteran population to be approximately 2.7% of inmates.  After accessing VA data, they found that 7.7% of their incarcerated population qualified as veterans — making them eligible for numerous federal benefits.

According to data from the Florida Department of Corrections, as of October 2023, 3,989 people in Florida prisons self-identified as veterans.  Over 99% of the 3,989 people are men (only 30 women in Florida prisons self-identified as veterans).  Accounting for approximately 5% of all people incarcerated in Florida prisons, as noted above, this proportion likely underestimates the true number of people incarcerated in Florida facilities who would qualify under federal statute as a veteran.  Difficulty in identifying veterans is exacerbated by the fact that Florida Statute and the United States Code differ in their definition of who qualifies as a veteran.

Though focused on Florida's prisons, the report closes with a helpful national review of "additional veteran-specific programs that Florida policymakers and correctional practitioners should consider implementing."  Anyone concerned about veterans involved with the criminal justice system should fine this report of interest, and a short form of the report here provides a useful overview.

Some of many prior related posts:

November 17, 2023 in Offender Characteristics, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (11)

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Prison Policy Initiative highlights ten stats about modern criminal justice system

Emily Widra at Prison Policy Initiative has produced this new item under the title "Ten statistics about the scale and impact of mass incarceration in the U.S."  The stats listed, along with PPI's signature visuals, actually cover a lot more than incarceration, and here is how the list is set up:

The United States’ reliance on incarceration outpaces most of the globe: every single state incarcerates more people per capita than virtually any independent democracy on Earth.  But the sheer magnitude and impact of a system so large can be hard to fully comprehend.  We looked back over some of the best criminal legal system research and chose these ten statistics as some of the most handy for advocates, policymakers, and journalists working to help the public appreciate just how far-reaching mass incarceration is in this country.

Here are a couple of the items from the list (with links from the original):

October 25, 2023 in Data on sentencing, Detailed sentencing data, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (6)

Upon new review, split Ohio Supreme Court now upholds 65-year (functional life) prison term for woman who stole from nursing homes

As reported in this local article, the "Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday in a split decision upheld the 65-year sentence − a new ruling that unravels a previous decision by the high court."  The full opinion in State v. Gwynne, Slip Opinion No. 2023-Ohio-3851 (Ohio Oct. 25, 2023), which runs a total of 61 pages, is available at this link. The press article effectively provides a summary and the notable backstories around this latest ruling in a long-discussed Ohio case:

Susan Gwynne admitted that she stole thousands of items from dozens of residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Delaware and Franklin counties where she worked.  But she didn't think she should get 65 years in prison....

The case raises the questions: What is appropriate punishment for a first-time, non-violent felony offender, when consecutive sentences are merited and what oversight should appeals courts have?  The case also reflects what can happen when the balance of the Ohio Supreme Court shifts.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy said state law directs appellate courts to generally defer to trial courts' sentencing decisions.  She wrote that an appellate court could change a trial court's sentence if it "clearly and convincingly finds" the record doesn't support the trial court's findings.  The new opinion authored by Kennedy disagreed with the opinion issued in December 2022.

In December 2022, the Ohio Supreme Court said in a 4-3 ruling that trial courts need to consider an overall combined prison term when imposing consecutive sentences.  The court also found the Fifth District Court of Appeals erred in deciding it had no authority to review and vacate Gwynne’s 65-year sentence.  The high court sent it back to the appeals court to reconsider the length of Gwynne's sentence.

Once the control of the court shifted in January, the justices voted 4-3 to reconsider the December 2022 ruling.  Justice Melody Stewart wrote in her dissenting opinion that the court only decided to reconsider the case when Republican Joe Deters joined the court.  Gov. Mike DeWine appointed Deters to fill a vacancy created when Kennedy moved up to be chief justice.

She said that Kennedy's majority opinion will leave Ohio's law on consecutive sentencing − stacking prison time on multiple counts to run one after the other rather than concurrently − "so muddled that it will be virtually impossible for any defendant" to mount a successful challenge of a stacked sentence.  Trial court judges issue consecutive sentences in cases if they deem it necessary to protect the public and it'd be proportionate to the offenses.  Generally, though concurrent sentences are the default.

In a second dissent, Justice Jennifer Brunner noted other cases similar to Gwynne's crimes in which the defendants received far less prison time.  She said people who get 65 years in prison are almost always convicted of rape, kidnapping, torture or other heinous violent behavior.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Michael Donnelly, who has been vocally critical of the Gwynne case and recused himself, said "This sentence is exhibit A in how the state of Ohio needs a total overhaul of its criminal sentencing scheme and we need a database."  The current system allows for disparity − grossly excessive and unexplainedly lenient sentencing, he said....   Donnelly supports establishing a statewide criminal sentencing database, which would allow researchers, judges and the public to compare outcomes of similarly situated defendants.

Gwynne, now 62, is incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville.  Her release date is May 30, 2081 when she'd be 120-years-old.

October 25, 2023 in Procedure and Proof at Sentencing, Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Lots of pictures and words about the growing share of persons growing old in prison

The New York Times has this extended opinion piece, with lots of storytelling and lots of pictures, under the headline "Elderly and Imprisoned: ‘I Don’t Count It as Living, Only Existing.’" The piece is authored by Carmilla Floyd and here are excerpts:

Between 1993 and 2013, the number of people 55 or older in state prisons increased by 400 percent. The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that by 2030, people over 55 will constitute a third of the country’s prison population.

Research shows that most people age out of criminal conduct. Moreover, the Department of Justice asserts that the risk of elderly people reoffending after release is minimal. Yet decades of tough-on-crime sentencing and increasingly rigid release policies have left many to grow old in a system that was not designed to accommodate them. The cost is high, for both the residents and the public at large....

Reforms have ignited hope among residents who expected to die in prison. In California, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 provides a process for nonviolent offenders to be considered for parole if their release poses no unreasonable risk to the community. Also in California, the Elderly Parole Program lays out a path for some residents who are over 50 and who have served at least 20 years. The state has also established compassionate release programs for terminally ill or medically incapacitated residents.

Efforts to reduce the aging prison population are driven not solely by compassion but also by the tremendous cost of incarcerating older people. Residents do not qualify for Medicaid, leaving the state responsible for all care expenses. Older residents are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes, dementia and cancer and to struggle with depression and anxiety.

Yet the rules and policies around parole decisions are often obstacles to releasing elderly residents, especially if they committed violent offenses in their youth. These secretive and subjective policies should be changed to focus on risk assessment and rehabilitation rather than the initial crime. Punitive sentences like life without parole should be abolished altogether.

October 22, 2023 in Offender Characteristics, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (8)

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Detailing how sex offenders in New York can imprisoned long past their maximum sentences

The Nation has this notable lengthy new article detailing just how some New York offenders end up incarcerated well past the end of their actual sentences.  The article's full title previews the key points: "They Were Supposed to Be Free.  Why Are They Locked Up?: No one wants a person convicted of a sex offense in their neighborhood.  So New York keeps them in prison long past their release dates."  Here are some excerpts:

[Jory] Smith is one of hundreds of New Yorkers over the past decade whom the state has imprisoned past their maximum sentences, often for months or years.  It’s not because the judicial system is afraid that he’ll commit another crime—a judge had determined that Smith’s “risk of re-offense is low.”  He is caged there, essentially, because he is homeless.

In 2015, Smith was imprisoned for sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl, and state legislation severely restricts where people with such sex-offense convictions are allowed to live.  With few politicians willing to publicly defend people who have been found guilty of sex crimes, authorities have been free to push the boundaries of how to enforce the law.

The state redesignates people convicted of sex offenses who have served their maximum prison sentences as parolees. But unlike others on parole, some of them don’t get released.  They’re kept incarcerated until they can find a legal place to stay or until their parole is up — for Smith, that’s August 2025.  They wear normal prison uniforms.  They abide by prison visitation, meal, and recreation rules. Most sleep in general population units.

Many of them also work a prison job. And the state holds most of their wages in an account that they can access only upon their undetermined and mostly unknowable release date.  For his work assignments, Smith receives between $5 and $10 a week.  He called it “slave wages from slave labor.”

This system of prolonged incarceration started nearly a decade ago—and the number of people subjected to it has increased.  In 2015, it was 37, according to data obtained by Appellate Advocates and shared with New York Focus and The Nation.  By 2017, the number had risen to more than 100, and in the first half of 2019, it was 60 — almost 8 percent of the “parolees.”

New York’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, or DOCCS, which runs the state prison and parole systems, wouldn’t offer updated annual numbers but said that, as of late July, it was holding 49 people past their release dates.  In a statement, the department said that it “follows the letter of the law” when it comes to confining people convicted of sex offenses.

Lawmakers have exacerbated the situation. And courts have so far greenlighted the practice — though that could soon change.  A judicial shake-up in New York this year saw one of the few people in power who was willing to criticize it become head of the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.  And a years-in-the-making lawsuit challenging the practice is set to hit the court’s docket.

That case might be the last hope for change until the politics around sex crimes shift.  “It’s very sensitive — people have very emotional reactions to sex offenders,” said James Bogin, a senior supervising attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York and part of the team working on the Court of Appeals case.  “The idea that the end of the sentence doesn’t mean anything, that it doesn’t even lead to any change in your circumstance, is pretty unbelievable.”

October 19, 2023 in Prisons and prisoners, Procedure and Proof at Sentencing, Scope of Imprisonment, Sex Offender Sentencing | Permalink | Comments (10)

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

"A Comprehensive Analysis of the Effect of Crime-Control Policies on Murder"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Carlisle Moody recently posted on SSRN.  Here is its abstract:

This study investigates the effects of most of the major firearm and crime control policies on murder.  We use two-way fixed-effects models based on state-level panel data from 1970-2018.  We include a comprehensive list of relevant policy variables to control for their influence in determining the effect of each.  We do a specification search using four commonly used econometric methods to estimate three models of the crime equation.  A Bonferroni correction is used to control for false rejections. A robustness check using new difference-in-differences estimators confirms the results.  We find that, with the possible exception of constitutional carry laws, no firearm policy can be shown to have a significant long-run effect on murder.  However, we find that the traditional policies of prison incarceration and police presence significantly reduce murder in the long run.  We also find that executions have no significant long-run effect on murder.  Finally, there is considerable evidence that three-strikes laws increase murder in the long run.

October 18, 2023 in Data on sentencing, Gun policy and sentencing, National and State Crime Data, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Sentencing Project releases first in series of reports on the "narrowing and persistence" of racial disparities CJ system

The Sentencing Project has released this new report today titled "One in Five: Ending Racial Inequity in Incarceration." The report's lengthy executive summary provides an overview of the report's these and concludes by nothing this report is the first in a series. Here are excerpts from the start and close of the executive summary:

Following a massive, four-decade-long buildup of incarceration disproportionately impacting people of color, a growing reform movement has made important inroads.  The 21st century has witnessed progress both in reducing the U.S. prison population and its racial and ethnic disparities.  The total prison population has declined by 25% after reaching its peak level in 2009. While all major racial and ethnic groups experienced decarceration, the Black prison population has downsized the most.  The number of imprisoned Black Americans decreased 39% since its peak in 2002.  Despite this progress, imprisonment levels remain too high nationwide, particularly for Black Americans.

Reforms to drug law enforcement and to sentencing for drug and property offenses, particularly those impacting urban areas which are disproportionately home to communities of color, have fueled decarceration and narrowed racial disparities.  These trends have led scholars to declare a “generational shift” in the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for Black men.  This risk has fallen from a staggering one in three for those born in 1981 to a still troubling one in five for Black men born in 2001.  Black women have experienced the sharpest decline in their imprisonment rate, falling by 70% between 2000 and 2021.

But ... progress in reducing racial disparity in the criminal legal system is incomplete and at risk of stalling or being reversed....

To help protect and expand the progress made so far, The Sentencing Project is producing a series of four reports examining both the narrowing and persistence of racial injustice in the criminal legal system, as well as highlighting promising reforms.  This first installment presents an overview of trends in prison and jail incarceration and community supervision. The next installment will examine the high levels of contact that police initiate, particularly with people of color, as well as differential crime rates.  The final reports will examine key drivers of disparity from within the criminal legal system and promising reforms from dozens of jurisdictions around the country.

October 11, 2023 in Prisons and prisoners, Race, Class, and Gender, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (16)

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

"The Abolition and Retention of Life Without Parole in Europe: A Comparative and Historical Perspective"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by Mugambi Jouet and available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Life without parole is increasingly recognised as another death penalty in dooming prisoners to die behind bars.  Abolitionism and retentionism now characterise its state in Europe on the tenth anniversary of the European Court of Human Rights' landmark Vinter decision.  In abolishing irreducible life sentences, Vinter crystallised a long-term evolution in prisoners’ rights since the Enlightenment.  Meanwhile, enduring animosity toward prisoners has led their rights to recurrently become the stage for wider debates about the legitimacy of European institutions.  The United Kingdom’s threats to leave the European Court of Human Rights notably enabled it to exempt itself from Vinter.  Still, the European project retains numerous supporters, which helps explain why life without parole’s abolition is making progress in continental Europe, as confirmed by comparisons with the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  The Article ultimately demonstrates that prisoners’ rights are both a microcosm of broader questions regarding European integration and a benchmark of human dignity’s historical evolution.

October 4, 2023 in Scope of Imprisonment, Sentencing around the world, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, September 30, 2023

"Cheap on Punishment: Examining the Impact of Prison Population Racial Demographics on State-Level Corrections Spending"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by Joshua Williams and Paige Vaughn recently published online at Justice Quarterly.  Here is its abstract:

Research has explored the effects of various state-level characteristics, such as racial composition and economic conditions, on correctional budgetary decisions.  However, researchers have yet to consider how the racial makeup of state prison populations themselves may impact subsequent corrections spending decisions.  Drawing on work suggesting that people of color are simultaneously over-punished and neglected by criminal justice systems, and utilizing a time-series cross-section analysis of 50 states from 1979 through 2017, we explore differences in state budgetary allocations for correctional expenditures based on the racial demographics of prison populations.  We find that the relationship between the Black-to-White incarceration ratio and spending on corrections is curvilinear: once a tipping point of Black-to-White incarceration is reached, spending on corrections decreases.  This finding is especially pronounced in Southern and Midwestern states.  Overall, our results provide a strong starting point for understanding the ways in which Black Americans are neglected in the incarceration setting.

September 30, 2023 in Prisons and prisoners, Race, Class, and Gender, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Prison Policy Initiative provide updated data on "incarceration stats by race, ethnicity, and gender" in all states

Prison Policy Initiative has this new briefing by Leah Wang fully titled "Updated data and charts: Incarceration stats by race, ethnicity, and gender for all 50 states and D.C.: New data visualizations and updated tables show the national landscape of persistent racial disparity in state prisons and local jails."  here is how the briefing begins (with links from the original):

The best and latest criminal legal system data are often scattered across different government agencies, in incompatible formats, and difficult to compare.  To make the most useful information more accessible, we make the underlying data for our timely reports and briefings available in our Data Toolbox, and create state-specific graphics on our comprehensive State Profiles pages.  Today, we’ve added a rich new series of resources for our users of our work:

First, we now have downloadable spreadsheet of the most recently available incarceration data for people in state prisons and in local jails, by race and ethnicity and by sex, for all 50 states and D.C.  Unlike other datasets, ours provides apples-to-apples state comparisons in three formats (counts, rates, and percentages): We’ve done the math to standardize incompatible measurements found in the various original data sources.

Second, we’ve updated over 100 of the key graphics on our State Profiles pages showing prison and jail incarceration rates by race and ethnicity, and how the racial composition of each state’s prisons and jails compare to the total state population.

September 27, 2023 in Data on sentencing, Detailed sentencing data, Prisons and prisoners, Race, Class, and Gender, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

"Moral Judgments and Knowledge about Felony Murder in Colorado: An Empirical Study"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by Ian Farrell now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

With funds provided by a Hughes Pilot grant, I conducted a survey of 523 Colorado residents to determine their knowledge of and moral attitudes towards the felony murder rule.  The survey showed that only a very small fraction of the participants knew that unintended killings in the course of predicate felonies was murder punishable at the time by life without the possibility of parole.  Similarly, only a very small fraction of survey participants believed that persons who committed unintended killings in the course of predicate felonies deserved a murder conviction or sentence of mandatory life without the possibility of parole.  Rather, the mean sentence that survey participants considered just for felony murder was just over six years in prison.  These results substantially undercut the two main justifications given for felony murder, namely deterrence and retribution.

September 26, 2023 in Offense Characteristics, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, September 17, 2023

"The COVID-19 Pandemic, Prison Downsizing, and Crime Trends"

The title of this post is the title of this article recently published in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice and authored by Charis Kubrin and Bradley Bartos.  Here is its abstract:

California has fundamentally reformed its criminal justice system.  Since 2011, the state passed several reforms which reduced its massive prison population. Importantly, this decarceration has not harmed public safety as research finds these measures had no impact on violent crime and only marginal impacts on property crime statewide.  The COVID-19 pandemic furthered the state’s trend in decarceration, as California reduced prison and jail populations to slow the spread of the virus.  In fact, in terms of month-to-month proportionate changes in the state correctional population, California’s efforts to reduce overcrowding as a means to limit the spread of COVID-19 reduced the correctional population more severely and abruptly than any of the state’s decarceration reforms.  Although research suggests the criminal justice reforms did not threaten public safety, there is reason to suspect COVID-mitigation releases did.  How are COVID-19 jail downsizing measures and crime trends related in California, if at all?  We address this question in the current study.  We employ a synthetic control group design to estimate the impact of jail decarceration intended to mitigate COVID-19 spread on crime in California’s 58 counties.  Adapting the traditional method to account for the “fuzzy-ness” of the intervention, we utilize natural variation among counties to isolate decarceration’s impact on crime from various other shocks affecting California as a whole.  Findings do not suggest a consistent relationship between COVID-19 jail decarceration and violent or property crime at the county level.

September 17, 2023 in Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Notable data from BOP Director on FIRST STEP, compassionate release and home confinement

The US Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing today on “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” and BOP Director Colette Peters submitted written testimony that is available here.  Much is worth reading from that document, and I thought some of the data on "First Step Act Implementation" and on "Compassionate Release and Home Confinement" was worth blogging:

Since January 2020, more than 104,000 incarcerated individuals have actively participated in approximately 110 evidence-based recidivism-reducing (EBRR) programs and productive activities (PAs) within the Bureau. In that same timeframe, those individuals have completed more than 370,000 EBRRs and PAs.

In 2019, we adopted the new Good Conduct Time calculation required by the FSA and implemented FSA time credit provisions. Initially, implementing the FSA time credit provisions meant interim procedures with manual calculation of credits from the time the language of the final rule was approved until an automated system could be developed and tested. Then, in 2022, we transitioned from manual to automated FSA time credit calculations, streamlining and accelerating the process. In November 2022, we published the policy on FSA time credits to formalize implementation of the earned time credits rule, with subsequent revisions in February and March of 2023. This new policy was designed to streamline the calculation of credits and maximize an individual’s ability to earn and apply these credits when engaging in programming. We have also implemented revisions to our time credit calculation procedures in response to concerns of Congress and stakeholders and applied those changes for eligible individuals....

Additionally, we fine-tuned our PATTERN recidivism reduction tool worksheet by including program completion factors and sanitizing sensitive information, such as Walsh Act criteria. We made functional and technical improvements, including improving auditing capabilities and error reduction by implementing distinct ineligibility codes. We made these important changes to ensure that those in our care who are earning credits get their credits. From January 2022 through August 31, 2023, we released approximately 22,940 individuals through FSA, and approximately 16,125 were released from Residential Reentry Centers.

We support the Department’s development of the PATTERN tool (through the National Institute of Justice), including its evolution to address concerns around racial and ethnic disparities in the tool. In March 2023, the Department conducted its second annual revalidation of the PATTERN risk assessment tool. Following this, the Bureau began utilizing PATTERN version 1.3 with revised risk level categorizations. This addressed previous racial and ethnic disparities in the tool and increased opportunities for eligible individuals to apply earned time credits.

Compassionate Release. The Bureau continues in its efforts to support compassionate release, wherein the sentencing court is able to reduce a sentence due to extraordinary and compelling reasons or for certain individuals.  The FSA went into effect on December 21, 2018, and since that time, we have released a total of around 4,606 individuals who were under our care through compassionate release.  Of that group of individuals, 129 were released through compassionate release on a motion initiated by the Bureau, and 4,477 received compassionate release after a defense motion.  So far in the calendar year 2023 (CY23), approximately 216 individuals under our care have been released through compassionate release.  Of those, we initiated the motions for compassionate release for 9 of those individuals, while 207 received a compassionate release after a defense motion.  Requests for compassionate release receive close and individualized review based on extraordinary and compelling circumstances.

As part of the compassionate release review process, we collaborate closely with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to determine if petitioning the sentencing court for compassionate release on behalf of an individual is warranted.  While we work to review and handle compassionate release requests accurately and efficiently, ultimately, compassionate release decisions rest with the sentencing courts.  We have considered and will be prepared to comply with the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s proposed amendments to compassionate release as they relate to individuals who are victims of sexual assault while in our custody, which will take effect in November 2023.

Home Confinement. To ensure public safety and effective reentry with the home confinement provision authorized under the FSA, we rely on our Residential Reentry Centers.  Those contractors work diligently to create a personalized reentry process, including individual-specific employment guidance, financial management advice, and more. This approach equips individuals with tools for a responsible and successful transition back into their communities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enabled many individuals in Bureau facilities to be placed in home confinement for health and safety. We tracked the individuals under our care whom we moved into home confinement.  From March 2020 through June 24, 2023, we transferred approximately 13,666 individuals into home confinement through the CARES Act, with the vast majority of those individuals completing their sentence in home confinement without returning to an institution.  Although the specific authority for new CARES Act home confinement placements has ended, those already placed remain in their placements.  As of August 31, 2023, approximately 3,374 individuals remain in home confinement in accordance with applicable rules.  The vast majority 9  of those placed on home confinement have complied with program rules, and less than 0.05% have been returned to custody for committing new crimes.

UPDATE: This AP article reporting on the hearing is headlined "Senators clash with US prisons chief over transparency, seek fixes for problem-plagued agency."

September 13, 2023 in Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment, Who Sentences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

CCJ publishes big new data resource, "The Footprint," which seeks to track the size of America's criminal justice system

The Council of Criminal Justice (CCJ) today published this notable new data resource titled "The Footprint: Tracking the Size of America's Criminal Justice System."  Here is how the resource introduces the data it covers on its landing page:

The overall size, or “footprint,” of the American criminal justice system remains well above historical levels, but it has shrunk substantially in recent years.  This series of interactive charts summarizes trends in crime, arrests, and correctional control (incarceration and community supervision), comparing current levels with their most recent peaks or valleys.  Time periods vary due to data availability, and where reliable data are available, trends in race and sex are also presented.

COVID-19 resulted in significant changes in crime patterns and the operations of law enforcement agencies, courts, correctional agencies, and paroling authorities.  Because of the unique influence of the pandemic across the system, analyses also examine the early effects of the pandemic on crime, arrests, and correctional control.

The first section provides a high-level overview of crime, arrest, and incarceration trends in recent decades. The following sections take a closer look at trends in each area, broken down by age, crime type, race, and sex.

The data assembled here, which provides historical national data trends based on already reported public data, are great to have in one place. Sentencing fans may be especially interested in the data trends regarding probation, parole, jails, state prisons and federal prisons, but all the data is really fascinating in all sorts of particulars.

September 12, 2023 in Data on sentencing, National and State Crime Data, Prisons and prisoners, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (22)