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State Sentencing Policy Roundup

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  1. State SentencingPolicy Roundup Carl Reynolds Director, Office of Court Administration, Austin Texas

  2. Perspectives on State Sentencing Sentencing Commission Correctional Agency State Court Administration NCSC Sentencing Reform project Survey of State Court Leadership Public Sentencing Attitudes Survey Ten Policy Initiatives to Reduce Recidivism Other National Efforts Council of State Governments Reentry & Justice Reinvestment American Law Institute Vera Institute

  3. Sentencing Commission Perspective • Texas Punishment Standards Commission, 1991-1993 • Sentencing Commissions in 21 States

  4. Correctional Agency Perspective • Decide where an inmate is housed. • Credit time served in jail as directed by the court. • Determine eligibility for parole, mandatory supervision (S.B. 152, 1977), discretionary mandatory supervision (H.B. 1433, 1995), street time credit (H.B. 1649, 2001), and one-year set-off if parole is denied. (S.B. 917, 2003) • Determine whether subject to sex offender registration or referral for sexually violent predatory civil commitment..

  5. Court Administration Perspective • Judicial Education • Standard Felony Judgment Form http://www.courts.state.tx.us/oca/FelonyForms/index.asp • Judicial Council • Vice Chair of the ABA Sentencing Committee • Member of the Conference of State Court Administrators


  6. NCSC Sentencing Reform Project:Getting Smarter about Sentencing • Reduce over-reliance on incarceration • Promote alternatives to incarceration • Eliminate inappropriate racial and ethnic disparities • Promote greater flexibility and judicial discretion • Provide greater rationality • Use evidence-based practices to promote public safety and reentry • Promote sentencing commissions and flexible guideline systems

  7. NCSC Survey of State Court Leaders • Reduce over-reliance on incarceration andexpand use of evidence-based practices • Provide greater rationality and eliminate inappropriate racial and ethnic disparities • Promote greater judicial discretion(including repeal of mandatory sentences) and use of sentencing commission and guideline systems • States split on importance of repeal • Sentencing commissions: “least important”

  8. NCSC Sentencing Attitudes Survey:Top Priority for Dealing with Crime PREVENTION, like youth education programs REHABILITATION, like job training and education for offenders PUNISHMENT, like longer sentences and more prisons ENFORCEMENT, like more police on the streets

  9. Public’s Top Sentencing Reform Priorities

  10. Preferred role for judges in efforts to improve sentencing Big, not leading, role 47% No role 9% Small role 22% Leading role 19%

  11. Evidence Based Practices & State Sentencing Policy: Ten Policy Initiatives • Target Risk /Recidivism Reduction • Ensure Sentencing Flexibility for Risk Reduction Strategies • Use Valid Risk Assessments in Sentencing • Data-Driven Sentencing • Effective Community Corrections

  12. Evidence Based Practices & State Sentencing Policy: Ten Policy Initiatives • Community-Based Intermediate Sanctions • Sentencing Data • Judicial Education on Evidenced Based Practices • Revise Sentencing Processes to Support Risk Reduction Strategies • Local Collaboration

  13. CSG Justice Reinvestment • Predicament • Mounting fiscal pressure on state budgets coupled with growing prison populations • Increasing numbers of admissions to prison are violators of probation / parole • Weakening community supervision and community supports • Concept • Save money by managing growth of corrections system • Increase public safety by using a portion of the savings generated to strengthen community supervision and build community capacity to receive offenders released from prison

  14. American Law InstituteModel Penal Code: Sentencing • Texas Advisors and Members Consultative Group

  15. Vera Institute State Sentencing & Corrections Program