Robert Apel and Daniel S. Nagin
This article begins with a discussion of key concepts of deterrence. Section II turns to empirical research on general deterrence. It considers the deterrent effect of the penultimate and ultimate legally prescribed sanctions, imprisonment, and execution. Section III discusses the deterrent effect of police, and reviews studies of aggregate police presence in addition to police deployment strategies. Section IV evaluates the strength of the evidence for perceptual deterrence, and the interplay of sanctions, perceptions, and behavior among individuals. The article concludes with some general remarks, a cautionary message about the limits of deterrence as a crime-control policy, and recommendations concerning future deterrence-based inquiry.
This chapter traces sentencing policies and practices in California, including the decision to abandon indeterminate sentencing and the enactment of a sentencing reform statute called Realignment. It first discusses California’s sentencing policies and practices from 1970 through the sentencing reductions driven by litigation in the federal courts and by initiatives that have signaled the voters’ rethinking of California’s approach to punishment. It then considers how California has reversed the trend toward longer prison sentences, along with its Three Strikes legislation and its effect on California’s prison overcrowding crisis. It examines the declining crime rates in California and whether Three Strikes is responsible for that downturn; the national trend that has questioned the overuse of incarceration; the shift of prisoners from state prisons to county jails; and California’s failed efforts to adopt a sentencing commission in the past and prospects for future reforms. It concludes by looking at California’s death penalty.
Richard S. Frase
This essay evaluates the origins, purposes, operation, and evolution of Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines system, implemented in 1980. Topics examined include key guidelines provisions, related statutes, charging and sentencing practices, departure rates, interpretive case law, and correctional populations. The essay concludes that the goals of this pioneering sentencing reform have largely been achieved: punishments have become more uniform and proportionate; policy formulation is more comprehensive and informed by data; sentencing has been coordinated with available correctional resources to avoid prison overcrowding and set priorities in the use of prison beds; there is a greater degree of “truth in sentencing;” prison sentences are used relatively sparingly; and the guidelines remain fairly simple to understand and apply. Minnesota has also achieved a sustainable balance between conflicting sentencing purposes, between uniformity versus flexibility, and in the powers of the sentencing commission, the legislature, courts, and practitioners to control sentencing policy and case outcomes.
Jeffery T. Ulmer and Julia A. Laskorunsky
This article outlines the history and evolution of Pennsylvania’s sentencing policies and practices since the adoption of its sentencing guidelines in 1978. Pennsylvania’s sentencing practices have many features in common with other states, such as mandatory minimum sentences and intermediate punishment; however, the system also has some unique features, such as having two independent parole processes for county and state inmates and not awarding a “good time” reduction for state inmates. Major recent developments include the adoption of a sentencing risk assessment and the nullification of many of the state’s mandatory minimum laws. Pennsylvania remains one of the most studied states in sentencing research. Major empirical research on sentencing and incarceration patterns, disparity, and effects of policy changes is summarized.
Michael M. O'Hear
This essay provides an overview of sentencing policies and practices in the state of Wisconsin and considers their impact on the state’s imprisonment rate. Current policies and practices are placed in historical context. Since 1980, state policy has increasingly emphasized the role of the local sentencing judge in determining punishment. Most importantly, a 1998 law ended discretionary parole, which had served as a check on the increasing severity of judge-imposed sentences. Although the state’s prison population remains near its record high of the mid-2000s, there seems little interest in adopting new restrictions on judicial sentencing discretion or otherwise restructuring the sentencing and corrections system in a fundamental way. The essay concludes by describing some more modest reforms that seem politically viable in the near term.