News Center Our News Center features summaries of the latest technology, equipment, strategies and news releases of interest to law enforcement, corrections and courts professionals. Rhode Island is the only state to screen every individual who comes into the correctional system for opioid use disorder, and to offer, in conjunction with counseling, all three types of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat addiction methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. How the suspect scores will help determine whether he or she remains behind bars on bond, or is let out of jail without having to post any bail after an initial court appearance.
Other NCSL staff contributors were Erin Kincaid, who provided significant research assistance; Vicky McPheron, who provided administrative support; and Leann Stelzer, who edited and coordinated publication of the report. Their continued support and assistance to NCSL and state legislatures are gratefully acknowledged.
The NCSL project responds to the challenges faced by states as they consider corrections and sentencing policies that both manage state spending and protect the public.
The Pew PSPP was launched in to help states advance fiscally sound, data-driven policies and practices in sentencing and corrections.
The group had a one-year work plan to discuss and identify overarching principles for effective state sentencing and corrections policy and to identify key issues and approaches that explain and illustrate the recommendations. The Pros and cons pretrial diversion addressed by the NCSL work group reflect the important role of state legislatures in enacting policies that manage prison populations and costs, address offender and community needs, and contribute to the safe and fair administration of criminal justice.
The discussions took place during a difficult, recessionary budget climate. A major interest of the work group was how to have an immediate effect on state public safety dollars while also ensuring that the public safety is protected into the future.
Many concepts addressed in the Principles reflect recent advances in resource-sensitive policies that actually reduce risk and recidivism. Mindful that sentencing and corrections policies reach into various levels and branches of government, the Principles also reflect the value that lawmakers place on stakeholders throughout criminal justice systems in policy development and discussions.
Apparent throughout the Principles is the importance of interbranch and intergovernmental collaboration, information exchange and evaluation in working toward effective sentencing and corrections policies.
It is the intent of NCSL and this work group that the Principles and examples presented here will help guide and inform many aspects of state sentencing and corrections policy now and well into the future.
Principles and Points Preamble Providing for justice and protecting the public are fundamental concerns of criminal justice systems. State approaches to sentencing and corrections have been characterized by traditional views that lean toward incapacitation or rehabilitation.
More contemporary policies to reduce recidivism look to evidence-based strategies that hold offenders accountable, are sensitive to corrections costs, and reduce crime and victimization.
State legislatures set both the tone and the framework for sentencing and corrections policies. The principles identified and described below resulted from the bipartisan NCSL work group and are not aligned with any particular opinion or approach. Their intended purpose is to provide broad, balanced guidance to state lawmakers as they review and enact policies and make budgetary decisions that will affect community safety, management of criminal offenders, and allocation of corrections resources.
Sentencing and corrections policies should embody fairness, consistency, proportionality and opportunity. Establish sentences that are commensurate to the harm caused, the effects on the victim and on the community, and the rehabilitative needs of the offender.
Strive to balance objectives of treating like offenders alike with allowing discretion to select correctional options that meet individual offender needs and contribute to crime reduction.
Consider whether sentencing and corrections policies adversely or disproportionately affect citizens based on race, income, gender or geography, including, but not limited to, drug crimes.
Review policies that affect long-term consequences of criminal convictions, including housing and employment opportunities. Legislatures should convey a clear and purposeful sentencing and corrections rationale.
The criminal code should articulate the purpose of sentencing, and related policies and practices should be logical, understandable, and transparent to stakeholders and the public.
Provide for agency mission statements that reflect the goal of recidivism reduction and the intended balance of surveillance, incapacitation, rehabilitation and victim restoration. Articulate corresponding requirements of agencies and expectations of courts.
Include in stated objectives that programs and practices be research-based, and provide appropriate oversight. Encourage collaboration among criminal justice, health and human services, and other relevant government agencies with intersecting not conflicting missions and goals. Include criminal justice system stakeholders in planning and deliberations.
Consider a coordinating council or other structured body to facilitate policy development that includes input from a broad array of stakeholders.
Engage and educate the public by providing meaningful and accurate messages about issues and approaches. A continuum of sentencing and corrections options should be available, with prison space for the most serious offenders and adequate community programs for diversion and supervision of others.
Ensure assessment of offender risk, needs and assets in order to provide appropriate placement, services and requirements.News Center.
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