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Impact of Determinate Sentencing on Prisoner Misconduct

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 40 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2012 Pages: 394-403
William D. Bales; Courtenay H. Miller
Date Published
October 2012
10 pages
This study analyzed the likelihood of prisoner misconduct and whether the implementation of determinate sentencing affected levels of prisoner misconduct.
The study found that several factors affected the likelihood of inmates committing one or more disciplinary infractions (DIs). The results show that sex, age, and race all impacted the level of DIs among inmates, with males less likely than females to engage in any form of rule violation when the outcome was violent, property or disorderly DIs; older inmates less likely to commit DIs regardless of the type of infraction; and Black inmates significantly more prone than White inmates to DIs in general and violent and disorderly DIs in particular. In addition, the results show that inmates convicted of robbery, burglary, and other violent crimes were more likely to commit at least one DI, as were inmates with prior prison convictions and those with longer lengths of stay in prison. The focus of this study was to analyze the likelihood of prisoner misconduct and whether the implementation of determinate sentencing affected these levels. The study examined the prison admission records for 305,228 felony offenders sentenced to prison in Florida between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 2001. Researchers compared the number of DIs among prisoners who had received indeterminate sentences to the number of DIs among prisoner who had received determinate sentences which were implemented on October 1, 1995. Prisoners who receive a determinate sentence are required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. Analysis of the data indicates that prisoners who receive determinate sentences are more likely to commit rule infractions and that the infractions occur across different types of misconduct. Study limitations and policy implications are discussed. Tables, notes, and references