E-Bulletin: Sentencing and Corrections Policy Updates Newsletter

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E-Bulletin Archives

The E-Bulletin is an NCSL electronic newsletter for state legislators, legislative staff, and others interested in state sentencing corrections policy. This newsletter provides periodic updates on state sentencing and corrections legislation and budgets, highlights innovative policies and programs, and connects you with reports and news of upcoming NCSL events.


Highlights from this issue include:

  • By the Numbers: Corrections Populations: New December 2012 data reveals change in prison populations and corrections budgets
  • The California Effect: California’s Public Safety Realignment has significant impact on national prison populations 

The E-Bulletin is prepared under a partnership project of NCSL's Criminal Justice Program and the Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts. The NCSL project is designed to help states find the best research and information availale when considering sentencing and corrections policy options and reforms.


This article appeared in the February 2013 issue. Full newsletter in pdf.

In Session: Justice Reinvestment on 2013 Legislative Agenda

Five states pursue justice reinvestment in 2013

Following sweeping reforms to adult corrections and sentencing in 2012, a Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians turned its attention to juvenile justice. Recommendations provided in a recent report include moves to use facility placements only for the most serious young offenders and to strengthen community supervision via risk assessments and evidence-based programs. As with adult justice reinvestment reforms, the council is also focused on uniform data collection and reporting as well as implementation of systems to measure performance. Legislation expected in early February will address juvenile justice reforms and may include additional adult measures that build off the 2012 legislation. 

Legislation introduced in 2012 (HB 2684) established a bipartisan, inter-branch working group to renew justice reinvestment efforts. In 2007, Kansas was one of the first states to pursue a justice reinvestment strategy. Data-driven policies (SB 14 2007) adopted by the legislature strengthened community supervision, controlled the prison population and generated savings. But the prison population is starting to inch back up and the working group is now considering additional reforms. Policy recommendations include increased access to community-based programming for high risk probationers and those on post-release supervision; swift and certain responses to technical violations of supervision; incentives for supervision compliance; ensuring post-release supervision to improve reentry; and reinvestment in front line law enforcement and improved responses to people with mental illness.  Legislation is expected in early February. 

An Oregon Commission on Public Safety worked in 2012 to develop corrections and sentencing reform policy options to be considered in 2013. A commission report focused on prioritizing prison resources for the most serious and violent offenders by revising certain presumptive and mandatory sentences; reducing recidivism with prison transition opportunities; earned time and earned discharge from community corrections; and enhancing evidence-based and cost-effective supervision strategies. Objectives also include establishing performance objectives, measures and oversight. The report states that these policy options would avert all of the projected 10-year prison population growth and recommends reinvestment in local crime prevention strategies. The legislature’s Joint Public Safety Committee will consider the recommendations and corresponding legislation during the 2013 session.

South Dakota
Legislation (SB 70)  in South Dakota responds to the recommendations of the South Dakota Criminal Justice Initiative Work Group. These recommendations include: strengthening offender supervision and holding offenders accountable by requiring evidence-based practices and interventions; controlling corrections spending and focusing prison space on violent and career criminals by differentiating among levels of criminal conduct for certain nonviolent offenses; and ensuring quality and sustainability of proposed reforms through required training for decision makers and offender supervision officers.
West Virginia
A 22-member working group is considering policy recommendations that address a prison population that is growing three times faster than the national average as well as high rates of substance abuse among probation and parole violators. The January 2013 recommendations include use of risk assessments in sentencing and community supervision, swift and certain responses to technical violations and a mandatory term of post-prison supervision. As proposed, the recommendations are estimated to save taxpayers up to $340 million, some of which will be reinvested into community-based substance abuse treatment.