Sentencing Advice to Illinois: Follow NY


Illinois is positioned to follow New York's lead in reducing crime and incarceration rates while opening the door to much needed savings in the state budget, argues a Northwestern University School of Law report. The publication contrasts the crime-fighting strategies of New York and California, two states that moved in different directions. New York's effective crime-fighting reforms are cited in contrast to the pitfalls of California's “three-strikes-you're-out” politics, inflexible sentencing schemes, and uncontrolled corrections costs.

“Our bond courts and pre-trial decisions need to work much better so that we quit locking up people who don't belong in the courts or prison in the first place,” said Malcolm Young of Northwestern Law's Bluhm Legal Clinic. “We need laws that recognize that many low-level drug offenders don't have to be incarcerated as well as greatly expanded opportunities for drug-treatment services and rehabilitation.” Young contends that Illinois should emulate New York, which invested in an infrastructure of alternatives to incarceration. It rapidly disposes of thousands of minor cases without lengthy pre-trial or post-sentencing incarceration and revised stiff drug-sentencing laws to keep low-level drug offenders out of prison and accommodate the release of rehabilitated offenders before the end of their sentences.

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