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Strategies for Successful Sentencing Reform Presentation to S.C. Sentencing Reform Commission by S.C. Public Defenders Chris Scalzo, Charles Grose & Ashley Pennington March 5, 2009 This Presentation Will: • Recommend How to Develop a Strategy for Successful Sentencing Reform • Recommend Alternatives to Incarceration • Suggest Reforms for the Prison System Developing a Successful Strategy • Define Success • Develop Objectives • Develop Principles • Adopt a Strategy First-Things-First: Define Success Not Knowing Where You’re Going is a Recipe for Getting Lost. How Should We Define Success? As Sentencing That • protects public safety • makes efficient use of tax dollars • reduces recidivism • provides effective sentencing options for fair punishment Make This a Shared Definition Everyone Should Use the Same Definition • DOC • Probation • Court • Solicitor • Defense Attorney • All Stakeholders Develop Objectives for Success Our Objectives Should Be • Greater Public Safety • Reduced Recidivism • More Efficient Use of Tax Dollars • Improved Sentencing Options Greater Public Safety No Clearer First Principle for CJS • Protect Public At-Large • Protect Victims Reduce Recidivism Recidivism = Internal Barometer of CJS Higher Rates Mean • Greater Threat to Public Safety • More Demand on Public Resources • Less Effective CJS More Efficient Use of Tax Dollars We Can Make Smart Choices About Money We Should Make Smart Choices About Money Tax Dollars Are Not Unlimited! Put More Tools In Sentencing Toolbox Sentencing Options are Tools • If Used Properly—Tools Can Increase Our Effectiveness • If an Available Tool Is Not In the Toolbox— Effectiveness Suffers Evaluating Sentencing Tools If a Tool No Longer Works —Remove It from Toolbox —And Get a Tool that Works! If a Tool is Outdated —Replace it With a New or Improved Tool —Stop Using Outdated Tools! If a New Task Demands a New Tool—Get One! Adopt Principles for Meeting Objectives These Principles Are: 1. Incarcerate Those Who Need to be Incarcerated—But Only Those Who Need to Be Incarcerated Adopt Principles for Meeting Objectives These Principles Are: 2. Identify What Reduces Recidivism—and What Does Not Adopt Principles for Meeting Objectives These Principles Are: 3. Evaluate Sentencing Options Based on What Provides Best Outcome Adopt Principles for Meeting Objectives These Principles Are: 4. Make Evidence-Based Decisions Incarcerate Only People Who Need Incarceration People Who are a Physical Threat to Others —Need to Be Incarcerated People Who Choose Not to Conform Behavior —Need to Be Incarcerated Don’t Incarcerate the Wrong People Doing So Does Not • Increase Public Safety • Reduce Recidivism • Increase Efficient Use of Tax Dollars Identify What Reduces Recidivism Ask the Right Question: “What will reduce recidivism and what will not?” It’s the Only Rational Thing to Do If We Want to Reduce Recidivism – We Have to Educate Ourselves on What In Fact Reduces Recidivism – We Cannot Continue to Do Things That Do Not Reduce Recidivism – There Are Tools and Research Available to Help Is Intuition Enough? “Create Longer Sentences—That Will Reduce Crime For Sure.” “Yeah, Create Mandatory Minimums That Will Reduce Crime, Too.” This Approach Makes Intuitive Sense • People Will Stop Committing Crimes Once They Find Out How Much Time They’ll Spend in Prison Intuition Over Validation The Problem Is People Who Commit Crimes Don’t Share Our Intuitions! The Bigger Problem… No Effort Was Made Before Implementation to Validate the Intuition With Data Results Federal Sentencing Guidelines Put In Place in 1980s • Based On The Intuition That Longer, Harsher Sentences Will Deter Crime • State & Federal Prison Populations Have Increased Six- Fold Since the 1970s Truth In Sentencing in SC TIS Developed From an Intuition, Too • Should Do The Time One Was Ordered To Do • Stiffer Penalties Deter Crime and Reduce Recidivism These Intuitions Were Not Validated, Either Result for SC SCDC Population Grew Twenty-fold • 1997 TIS Population = 540 • 2008 TIS Population = 10, 328 SCDC: Overall 3-year Recidivism Rate Increased • FY1997 it was 28% • FY2003 it was 32% Focus On What Produces the Best Outcome Ask the Right Question: “Does this sentencing option meet our objectives or is it counterproductive?” Example of Counterproductive Option Conviction for Drug Offense = Loss of DL Decreases Ability to Comply with Probation • Virtually Eliminates Transportation • Leaves Near Inability to Report • Huge Hurdle to Employment • Hobson’s Choice: Comply or DUS Make Evidence-Based Decisions Before Using a Sentencing Option Analyze It • Will it produce the results we want? • Will it further our objectives? Answer the Questions With Evidence • The Statistical Tools Are Available • The Data Is Available • The Experts Are Available Decision-Making in Courtroom What Sentencing Options … • Should Prosecutor Make Available? • Defense Attorney Advocate For? • Judge Order? Answering Requires Informed Decision Making Maximize Skills of Judicial System Lawyers & Judges are Not Trained … • Social Workers • Criminologists • Psychologists • Penologists We Are Well Trained to Use Evidence, Though Adopt a Strategy for Implementing & Improving Reform • identify all the agencies that should be involved in the criminal justice system, • establish clearly defined missions for those agencies, • incorporate those agencies into the sentencing reform process, • establish benchmarks to measure progress, • make decisions based on evidence, and • declare that sentencing reform should take place as an on-going endeavor. The Sentencing Reform Commission should be made permanent. The Commission Should Promote effective communication between the agencies in the criminal justice system – Access to information – Collaboration between agencies to propose solutions for individual offenders – Joint training The Commission Should • Create an environment where Judges can make evidence based decisions about sentencing Promote individual responsibility of offenders and ensure the protection of victims’ rights Look at the data… • Look at existing numbers • Track outcomes: recidivism (minor and major) • Track to see what is working and what is not working Alternatives to Incarceration Alternatives to Incarceration • Diversion Programs • Treatment Courts • Probation • Work Release Diversion Programs • Pre-trial Intervention (PTI) works – Promotes individual responsibility – Restitution to victims – Non-conviction protects jobs – Conserves court time • Increase availability of PTI – Allow PTI for General Sessions even if the person has been through PTI in Magistrate or Municipal Court Diversion Programs • Restitution in consideration for dismissal – Minor property offenses – If the incident is more “civil” than criminal – Non-violent disputes between family members of friends • Advantages – Promotes individual responsibility – Restitution to victims – Non-conviction protects jobs – Conserves court time Treatment Courts • Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts, CDV Courts • The success of treatment courts comes from cooperation between agencies to provide current, accurate and complete information to the Judge • The Commission should increase the availability and expand the access to treatment courts • Advantages – Individual responsibility – Treats the underlying problem – Avoids incarceration – Reduces recidivism Probation • The Probation Agent should be the Court’s method for monitoring compliance with the Court’s sentence. • The Commission should stress Probation’s mission includes rehabilitation. Restore Probation Resources • Restitution Centers – Non-incarceration, structured, residential settings where offenders live, work, and pay restitution and court costs. • Community Control Center – Non-incarceration, structured, residential program that provided intensive, in-patient drug and alcohol treatment Other Agencies • Department of Mental Health (DMH) – Alcohol and drug treatment – Mental health counseling – Provides treatment during pre-trial detention • Vocational Rehabilitation – GED programs – Vocational training • Employment Security Commission New Probation Violation Procedures • The probation agent should prepare a detailed report for the court – Background information on the offender – Reports from other agencies identifying issues unique to that individual and making recommendations – Propose solutions to the Court • Consider non-incarceration alternatives • Detail why non-incarceration alternatives are not appropriate and make specific recommendations for services during incarceration Study Collateral Consequences of Conviction • Driver’s license suspension – Drug conviction? – Look for a job – Getting to and from work • Provisional licenses can be inadequate – Driving on the job – Support families • Create a “first time offender” status – conviction can be expunged after completing the sentence Work Release • Sometimes short (6-12 mo) periods of incarceration are appropriate in lieu of SCDC, often times in connection with probation. • State and Counties should increase the availability of work release – Not available in all counties – Standardize around the state Work Release • Advantages – People stay in the community and keep jobs – Promotes individual responsibility • Consequences for criminal conduct • People can still support families • Inmates contribute to cost of WR • Can tie in needed rehab at night and offer mentoring Prison Reform Prison Reform Mandatory minimum sentences, no parole sentences, and lengthy sentences (particularly in drug cases) do not reduce recidivism and increase the size of the prison population. Prison Reform • Abolish mandatory minimum sentences • Abolish no parole (85% sentences) • Reduce lengthy, mandatory sentences in drug cases Sentencing Reform • Increase the use of split sentences • Create a three year Youthful Offender Sentence for violent crimes – H3030 • Allow judges more discretion to recommend specific programs during incarceration More Programs • Increase the use of the Addictions Treatment Unit (ATU) – Increase the available beds for adults from 250 to 1000 • Education • Skills training • Work Release Provide for Re-Entry President George W. Bush 2004 State of the Union Address “Tonight I ask you to consider another group of Americans in need of help. This year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society. We know from long experience that if they can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit crime and return to prison. So tonight, I propose a four-year, $300 million prisoner re-entry initiative to expand job training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups... America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.” Can we be more effective? • Can we be “tough” and “smart on crime” at the same time? • When the debt is paid and someone really wants to fit in, what should a correctional system or community offer? • What could we gain? A good citizen, neighbor, father, community leader? Four (4) Keys: Before & After Release • The Individual’s Will to Change Habits and Preparation • Real Employment • Mentoring and Involvement in an “Accountability” Community (ex. AA, church) • Opportunities for Service & Leadership Employment reduces recidivism • Need for birth certificates, SSN, SC ID card • Need for Driver’s license to get to work • Build on existing access to education • Build on existing access to voc rehab • Every inmate needs a job in prison • Inmates need to plan for release Mentoring can change attitude • Collaborate with legitimate organizations (AA, NA, churches, synagogues, mosques, and other pro-social support groups) • Encourage pre-release mentoring • Link to welcoming support group at release • Encourage service to the community as a way of life Sentencing Reform Commission Public Defenders March 5, 2009 The Commission Should • Invest each agency in the Criminal Justice System with responsibility for success in reducing recidivism. – By establishing a mission statement for each agency. – By setting goals and benchmarks for each agency.
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