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States Examine Sentencing and Corrections Policy

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  • Meagan Dorsch
    Director of Public Affairs
    Denver
    303-856-1412
  • Jon Kuhl
    Public Affairs Specialist
    Washington, D.C.
    202-624-3557
August 9, 2011

States Examine Sentencing and Corrections Policy 

Legislators from across the aisle as well as country create a road map for states to follow in sentencing and corrections legislation.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has correctly identified sentencing and corrections policies as top issues lawmakers will be facing during future state legislative sessions in each of the past three years. In 2011, task forces or study commissions in at least 23 states were at work on suitable and sustainable sentencing, offender supervision, and related corrections policies. In many others, the price tag on corrections is being scrutinized as part of a continued weak fiscal climate.

To help states in crafting more successful and cost -effective approaches, NCSL formed the Sentencing and Corrections Policy work group in 2010. Since then, the 18-member, bipartisan work group has discussed and developed a framework for legislatures to use in addressing sentencing and corrections policies and identifying approaches that both manage state spending and protect the public. The group has complied its findings into a report, "Principles of Effective State Sentencing and Corrections Policy," being released today at NCSL’s Legislative Summit.

“As legislators, we face any number of sentencing and corrections issues every session,” said Representative Jerry Madden of Texas and co-chair of the work group. “We hope state legislators will find this a useful road map for study groups, commission or task forces in states that are taking a wide view of sentencing and corrections, and developing new approaches.”

The report includes seven principles of effective sentencing policy and corrections ,  action items for legislators;  and a glossary and resources for more information. This report is designed to provide broad, balanced guidance to legislatures on policies and budget decisions affecting community safety, management of criminal offenders, and allocation of corrections resources.

“This group considered the interests and attitudes of the public,” noted Representative Janice of Kansas and co-chair of the work group. “We’ve developed a set of principles that are objective in ideology and evergreen in guiding lawmakers on issues of rehabilitation, accountability and public safety.”

The NCSL work group was interested in how to have an immediate effect on state public safety dollars, while also ensuring that the public is protected now and well into the future. The group consists of officers of the NCSL Law and Criminal Justice Committee and other legislators recognized as leaders on these issues. The Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States has worked with NCSL to assemble and convene this group as well as provide national expertise and technical assistance on these issues.


NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.

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