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Maine Rejects Indeterminacy - A Case Study of Flat Sentencing and Parole Abolition

NCJ Number
D F Anspach; P M Lehman; J H Kramer
Date Published
149 pages
Maine's experience with a change from indeterminate sentencing with parole to a flat sentencing system without parole is evaluated.
As part of the national movement to reform penal law, in 1976 Maine abolished its parole board, introduced flat sentencing, graded most offenses into five categories of seriousness, and redefined substantive offenses. The history, process, and context of this change are reviewed. The impact of the change is analyzed in terms of changes in type of sentence, sentence length, sentence certainty, sentence consistency and predictability, and in the load on the State's correction facilities. Maine's sentencing reform has not substantially changed the rate of incarceration. The type of incarceration sentence has changed. A functional equivalent to parole supervision has emerged that is court controlled. Offenders sentenced after the reform are serving more time. The combined effects of the increase in sentence length and in the number of offenders incarcerated have substantially increased the load on the correctional system. There has been an increase in certainty, which is only one characteristic of determinacy. The 1976 sentencing reform has not substantially changed the basis for sentencing decisions or the consistency of those decisions. Figures, 151 footnotes, and about 60 references are included.