We in the U.S face a daunting dilemma. We have increased those in our jails and prisons eight-fold since the 1970s. There is a general acknowledgement that that was a serious mistake, that our jails and prisons are overflowing with people who do not need to be there, and who could be dealt with in the community through alternatives to incarceration.
We have developed science-based practices (also called evidence-based practices) for the sentencing of offenders (based on voluminous research), but are still reticent to apply those practices where they will do the most good, in making sentencing decisions. Rational approaches to sentencing that provide different levels of supervision, treatment, rehabilitation, and assistance for felons (and misdemeanants) are attainable and already in effect in jurisdictions across the nation.
The following Twelve-Part Series of Article will lay out what a Science-Based Sentencing System might look like in your jurisdiction:
Part 1: Evidence-Based Sentencing Practices
Part 2: The Single Sentencing Court Team Concept
Part 3: The ‘Specialty Sentencing Court” as a Problem-Solving System
Part 4: Judge-Driven Sentencing Systems
Part 5: Court Monitoring of Sentence Tracks
Part 6: The Components of the Sentencing Track
Part 7: Decision Making in a Sentencing System
Part 8: Reducing Prison terms through Front-End Sentencing
Part 9: Evidence-Based Sentencing Systems are Cost-Effective
Part 10: Dealing with the whole person in sentencing
Part 11: Evidence Based Sentencing as a Hybrid System
Part 12: Back to the Future: Evidence Based Sentencing Systems