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Evaluation of the Federal Government's Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Grants

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 86 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2006 Pages: 364-385
Date Published
September 2006
22 pages

This evaluation examined the impact of the Federal grant program authorized under the 1994 Crime Act that was intended to help States expand prison space for violent offenders on the condition that recipient States have truth-in-sentencing (TIS) laws, which mandate clarity and consistency in terms actually served by offenders.


The evaluation found that the law had not been fully implemented, because by the end of the program only $2.7 billion of the authorized $10 billion had been awarded in grants to the States. Still, all States had received some money under the program, and 41 States met the standards for TIS grants. Most States that passed TIS laws would have done so without the grants. States varied widely in using their grants to produce additional prison space for violent offenders. By 1999 most States had increased their prison capacity less than 4 percent; however, States had 4 more years to spend the funds. From 1994 to 2001, mean sentence lengths for violent offenders declined in TIS States, and sentences remained relatively stable in non-TIS States. Time served by released inmates has increased since 1993 in TIS States while remaining relatively constant in non-TIS States. By the end of the 1990's, there was virtually no difference between TIS and non-TIS States in time served for violent offenses, and 2001 time served in TIS States for violent offenses had surpassed those in non-TIS States. Although this evaluation identified some trends indicative of positive effects from the grants, these must be verified when later data become available. This evaluation of the grant program relied on publicly available data sources, including analyses conducted by others. 6 figures, 2 tables, 9 notes, and 30 references

Date Published: September 1, 2006