Amid the most difficult economic situation since the Great Depression, state legislatures last year addressed sentencing and corrections policies that better manage correctional populations and budgets, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. States fine-tuned sentencing laws, expanded community-based diversion programs, and created policies and programs aimed at reducing recidivism. NCSL offers a 50-state chart of sentencing and corrections action in 2009.
Among many changes, California, Delaware, Maryland, Montana, Oregon, and Washington increased the monetary thresholds for theft-related crimes, to align low-level offenses better with less severe penalties. States required presentence risk assessments to identify defendants appropriate for community-based sentences. In Illinois and New Hampshire, presentence screening that includes treatment recommendations must be completed for current military or veterans diagnosed with a mental illness.