ByKarl A. Racine, Miriam Aroni Krinsky, and Kevin Ring |
The evidence shows that excessive sentences do not deter crime, even as they have produced a correctional system bursting at the seams, declared over 60 elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders, in a joint statement marking Second Chances Month. They called for mechanisms to provide second chances to the individuals behind bars who pose no danger to the community.
Acknowledging that mandatory sentences have had a disproportionate effect on individuals of color, legislators in several states have introduced proposals to end the practice for certain nonviolent offenses. A similar rethink is underway at the federal level.
Recommending standardized sentences, and new requirements on time served before qualifying for parole, the task force proposals could end up increasing prison populations and costing taxpayers millions.
Courts now accept that young people should be treated differently by the justice system. It’s time to apply the same principles of humane sentencing to adults, as many other countries do, argues a McGill University law professor.
University of Texas at San Antonio researchers looked at the punishment for sex offender and child pornography offenses over an 8-12 year period. They found that, despite Congressional sentencing legislation, Black and Hispanic Americans are receiving harsher sentences over time.
Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission have voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation stripping all mandatory minimum sentences from the state’s criminal code. Lawmakers will decide this week on the recommendation, which affects about 4,000 inmates.