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Changing Direction? State Sentencing Reforms 2004-2006 (Sentencing Project)

  • Organization: Sentencing Project
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Wednesday, March 14, 2007
  • Submitted: Thursday, March 15, 2007
  • Attachment(s): PDF
The Sentencing Project has released a new study reporting growing momentum for sentencing reform designed to limit prison population growth and reduce ballooning corrections budgets in the United States.

Changing Direction? State Sentencing Reforms 2004-2006 finds that at least 22 states have enacted sentencing reforms in the past three years. The report further identifies that the most popular approach for reducing prison crowding -- implemented by 13 states -- was the diversion of low-level drug offenders from prison to drug treatment programs. Additional policy changes included:
  • expansion of alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders;
  • parole and probation reforms designed either to reduce time served in prison or to provide supervision options to reduce the number of revocations to prison;
  • and broader sentencing reform, such as modifying controversial mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Changing Direction? State Sentencing Reforms 2004-2006 argues that in order to build on these positive legislative developments, lawmakers must continue to enact evidence-based criminal justice policies.
Recommendations of The Sentencing Project urge that policymakers:
  • expand the use of drug treatment as a sentencing option;
  • utilize intermediate sanctions for technical violations of parole and probation;
  • repeal mandatory minimum sentences;
  • and reconsider sentence lengths.

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