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Reducing the Prison Population (From Confronting Crime: Crime Control Policy Under New Labour, P 211-223, 2003, Michael Tonry, ed. -- See NCJ-204841)

NCJ Number
Michael Tonry
Date Published
13 pages
This chapter considers the range of options available should British policymakers commit to reducing the country's prison population.
There are only two basic options for reducing prison populations: "front-door" options that send fewer people to prison and for shorter periods and "back-door" options that lets inmates out sooner than under previous policies. "Front-door" strategies include repealing mandatory minimum sentencing laws; reducing the number of offenses for which incarceration is a sentencing option; establishing presumptive sentencing guidelines that are premised on the policy that lengths of all prison sentences should be reduced by an assigned percentage; the reduction of guideline-judgment starting points for all crimes by some percentage; and the creation of new credible community penalties reinforced by sentencing guidelines and training in their use. Other "front-door" options are to discourage the imposition of prison sentences of 6 months or less; create a new sentence of intermittent confinement; create and promote new diversion programs; prohibit prison admissions when the inmate population exceeds 95 percent of capacity; divert all drug-dependent offenders into drug treatment programs; and develop less punitive policies for dealing with violations of community supervision. "Back-door" policies include the implementation of a large-scale amnesty for inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses; re-establish a broad-based parole release system; set an absolute prison capacity limit; authorize petitioning for the resentencing of inmates; give the prison service the discretion to release inmates in community programs on a case-by-case basis; provide early release into intensive community supervision programs; and prohibit the extension of prison sentences as a sanction for violations of prison rules. 25 references