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Rethinking Sentencing

NCJ Number
Corrections Management Quarterly Volume: 5 Issue: 3 Dated: Summer 2001 Pages: 34-40
Martin F. Horn
Stephanie Neuben
Date Published
This article proposed the use of explicit and transparent sentences and making offenders responsible for their release and their success by equipping them with the tools necessary for success to enhance public safety.
The result of sentencing failure was the overuse of imprisonment and flawed release practices and procedures and reentry. It was proposed that while offenders were in prison they be offered the opportunity to learn the competencies they would need to succeed and release them back to the community in a graduated style. If all corrections professionals did was supervise offenders, it would ensure continued recidivism. This article presented four major propositions. First, imprisonment should be reserved for the incapacitation of dangerous people, retribution for troubling crimes, and as the most severe punishment to preserve and emphasize social norms. Second, the length and nature of a prison sentence should be fixed at the time of sentencing in all its elements (they must be explicit and transparent). Third, discretionary parole decision making should be abolished because it is obsolete and inconsistent and replaced with a personal responsibility model. Fourth, the preceding propositions offer an opportunity to rethink the role and operation of a prison as an enhancer of public safety to one that empowers inmates to, “hold the key” to their freedom through their behavior. The current system of parole places responsibility for success or failure of an individual on the state, instead of the offender. It was suggested that research agenda be redirected to determine what accelerates success by those released and how to build those accelerants into the criminal justice system. References