Posted October 5, 2010

Significant State Sentencing and Corrections Legislation 2007 and 2008

With decades of prison growth and skyrocketing costs; lawmakers are taking a renewed look at sentencing and corrections policies that better manage correctional populations and budgets. During 2007 and 2008, state lawmakers addressed a variety of sentencing and corrections issues including: alternatives to incarceration; probation and parole violations; prison programming, accelerated release; and reentry measures. States created task forces to study a number of issues related to sentencing and corrections. Many of these policies were aimed at reducing prison populations, cutting corrections costs, decreasing crime and recidivism rates, and maintaining public safety.  

This chart provides a summary of significant state sentencing and correction legislation in 2007 and 2008. The NCSL report State Sentencing and Corrections Legislation: 2007 Action, 2008 Outlook  and State Legislatures magazine “Online Extra: Looking for Alternatives” in 2008 provide additional analysis the legislation. 

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STATE

2007 LEGISLATIVE ACTION

2008 LEGISLATIVE ACTION

Alabama

Creates a pretrial diversion program for certain non-violent offenders.

Establishes policy and procedure for a medical furlough program.

Alaska

Requires electronic monitoring for gang-related offenses as a part of probation and parole.

Not Applicable.

Arizona

Makes changes to inmate transition program and adds prison reentry program.

Appropriates funds for local probation departments to reduce the number of revocations to prison. Increases the availability of substance abuse treatment and awards earned time to probationers for program compliance.

Arkansas

Not Applicable.

No Regular Session.

California

Creates new prison beds, medical and mental health treatment, and reentry services. Creates the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board and requires research on prevention.

Instructs the court to consider the potential for reunification with an incarcerated parent when considering an extension for court-ordered child welfare services. Instructs the sentencing court to impose the middle term for sentences of incarceration in the absence of mitigating or aggravating circumstances. 

Colorado

Creates the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to research sentencing, reduce recidivism, and stuffy alternatives to incarceration. Continues public assistance application help for offenders.

Extends the length of revocation for certain technical parole violations. Suspends, rather than cancels, Medicaid benefits for incarcerated persons. Requires a co-pay for any medical services initiated by an inmate. Changes the term "parole officer" to "community parole officer".  Provides grants for county partnerships for reentry assistance. Requires drug and alcohol assessments and treatment for convicted low-level offenders. Requires a report on the treatment of mental illness in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Connecticut

Raises the age of juvenile jurisdiction, expands the authority of the parole board concerning pardons, creates an inmate discharge savings account, and expands inmate mental health services.

Decreases maximum term of probation for certain low-level offenders. Increases length of potential sentences under the persistent felony offender sentencing statute. Instructs the court to consider, after a specified number of years, a probation progress report and victim statement before determining whether to continue or terminate probation. Requires the court to dispose of a violation of probation within 120 days.

Requires the Sentencing Task Force to recommend whether to establish a permanent sentencing commission. Requires racial and ethnic impact statements for bills that could affect the pretrial and sentenced population in correctional facilities.

Delaware

Creates a conditional driver's license for certain probationers.

Specifies that good time may be earned for participation in prison programs. Clarifies that the department of corrections may use GPS to monitor offenders on house arrest. 

Florida

Adds a sentence enhancement for felony murder against law enforcement and certain government officials.

Deletes provisions limiting when an offender may be placed on supervised house arrest. Creates the Sentencing Policy Advisory Council to evaluate correctional and sentencing policies, implementation pending upon appropriation.

Georgia

Repeals the three-judge panel that reviews sentences of imprisonment for a period exceeding 12 years, adds provisions concerning inmate work programs, and authorizes the commissioner of corrections to issue arrest warrants for escaped inmates.

Not Applicable.

Hawaii

Establishes a comprehensive offender reentry system, establishes the Offender Reentry Legislative Oversight Committee, and requires the court to impose the maximum length of imprisonment when sentencing a defendant to an extended term of imprisonment.

Establishes guidelines for state agencies when dealing with children of incarcerated parents, and re-establishes the Children of Incarcerated Parents Task Force. Creates a fee for applications for probation and parole out-of-state transfers.

Idaho

Adds offender substance abuse services to the state mental health authority development grant program.

Makes technical revisions to prison release dates. Appropriates funds for substance abuse programs in prison.

Illinois

Establishes mental health courts.  Creates good time for inmates who earn their GED but limits amount of good time violent and certain drug offenders can earn. Requires the penalty for battery of a corrections officer to be served consecutively with current sentence.

Allows religious workers access to jails for the purpose of visiting immigration detainees.

Indiana

Not Applicable.

Defines a "credit restriction felon" as an offender convicted of crimes relating to child molestation or murder related to a sex crime and limits eligibility for earned time. Clarifies the parolee's responsibility for program costs. Specifies that a court may impose more than one sanction for a probation violation.

Iowa

Allows the sheriff to X-ray inmates.  Expands the offense of possessing contraband.

Not Applicable.

Kansas

Establishes a community corrections grant program. Creates good time for certain non-violent offenders who complete treatment, vocational or educational programs.

Adds risk assessments, recommendations by correctional facility staff and proportionality of time served as factors to be considered by the parole board when determining parole eligibility. Extends the risk assessment sentencing pilot program in Johnson County for two years.

Kentucky

Not Applicable.

Increases the number of parole board members, allows the board to review parole applications for low-level offenders without a hearing. Creates the Penal Code Study Subcommittee to review crime classification and sentence length and to create a philosophy for modernization of the code.

Louisiana

Establishes a reentry program that provides inmates with the skills they need to be successful in the community.  Creates a prison substance abuse program for inmates convicted of controlled substances violations.

Creates additional specialty courts. Expands eligibility for intensive incarceration and intensive parole supervision. Increases the maximum probation sentence length to ensure completion of drug treatment. Requires a new sentence resulting from a parole violation to be served concurrently. Creates the Inmate Rehabilitation and Workforce Development prison program. Clarifies the circumstances for which an inmate may be released from prison for medical purposes. Increases earned time for inmates serving consecutive sentences. Uses interest earned on inmate accounts for reentry assistance. Requires the sentencing commission to review the state's sentencing structure. Creates the Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys to study conditions, including crime and incarceration rates.

Maine

Allows a certain amount of inmate work hours to be applied toward good time.  Creates county-level criminal justice planning committees, establishes the State Sentencing and Corrections Practices Coordinating Council, and creates a community corrections grant program.

Permits the court to order community service to work off unpaid court fines. Grants an inmate a waiver from required work or education programs if participating in full-time treatment.  Establishes the State Board of Corrections to develop, implement and evaluate a unified correctional system. Creates the Prison Industries Advisory Council to oversee prison industries programs.

Maryland

Adds contraband and prison gangs to the list of study topics for the Task Force to Study Prison Violence and adds items to the contraband list.  Requires inmates to be provided with medication upon release.

Establishes policies and procedures for a medical parole program.

Massachusetts

Not Applicable.

Not Applicable.

Michigan

Allows a county or judicial circuit to adopt a jail population management plan to reduce overcrowding and revises procedures for release of inmates.  Establishes prison mental health programs.

Expands eligibility for alternative incarceration programs. Amends the jail overcrowding powers act to include review of pre-conviction inmates.

Minnesota

Allocates funding for reentry pilot project and requires a statewide report on reentry policies and funding.

Not Applicable.

Mississippi

Not Applicable.

Re-enacts the intensive supervision program. Eliminates the requirement that an offender must serve a certain portion of his sentence to be eligible for medical parole. Clarifies that offenders with a second felony conviction are ineligible for house arrest. Authorizes a contract for a new prison and expansion of drug courts.

Missouri

Not Applicable.

Not Applicable.

Montana

Creates mental health courts.  Allows a judge, under certain circumstances, to grant early termination of a suspended sentence.

No Regular Session.

Nebraska

Commissions an in-depth analysis of the state's probation and parole systems.

Not Applicable.

Nevada

Commissions a study to determine the need for an oversight board for specialty courts.  Increases the amount of good time an inmate earns for completion of educational, vocational and substance abuse programs; amends residential confinement eligibility; and authorizes community sanctions for parole violators in lieu of prison.

Repeals the requirements that the parole board must provide notice of a meeting to an inmate being considered for parole and that an inmate must be allowed to speak during the parole meeting.

New Hampshire

Creates a day reporting program for county correctional facilities, allows contracts with other governmental entities for housing inmates, and establishes a commission to research costs related to transporting inmates.

Establishes a method for calculating minimum and maximum sentences. Establishes a commission to study sentencing, incarceration and recidivism. Creates an internal clemency board for determining sentence modifications.

New Jersey

Not Applicable.

Allows for an exception to the mandatory suspension of driver's licenses for conviction of certain controlled substances crimes. Expands eligibility for special probation and intensive supervision.

New Mexico

Creates an equation to determine disbursement of corrections funds to counties.

Not Applicable.

New York

Creates a pilot project for detaining probationers who violate their sentence. Prohibits private ownership of a correctional facility but allows private contracts for certain services.

Increases parole board discretion to discharge parole.  Establishes mental health treatment units in state correctional facilities.

North Carolina

Creates the Division of Correction Enterprise to employ inmates and amends inmate work laws.

Allows the court to consider a defendant's prior willful failures on community supervision as an aggravating factor in sentencing. Creates procedures for medical release of inmates. Allows for release of certain inmates for the purpose of deportation.

North Dakota

Authorizes correctional facilities to house inmates for more than one year if they provide certain programs and services.

No Regular Session.

Ohio

Not Applicable.

Allows community organizations to provide reentry services. Codifies the process of providing inmates with identification cards before release. Creates an ex-offender reentry coalition to assist with social service barriers to reentry. Allows for electronic processing of certain inmates to reduce transportation costs.  Streamlines procedures for medical release and certain early release applications. Expands eligibility for pretrial diversion programs. Allows the Adult Parole Authority to recommend reductions in post-release supervision.

Oklahoma

Creates an oversight council for inmate reentry, creates a task force to establish goals for reducing recidivism and coordinating reentry programs, and requires tracking inmates' success and recidivism after release.  Adds post-imprisonment supervision for certain offenders.

Authorizes creation of misdemeanor drug courts. Allows for the payment of fees owed through completion of community service. Requires the development of performance measures for each corrections budget category. Creates a task force to study women who are mentally ill and incarcerated. Allows GPS tracking to be used for pretrial release.

Oregon

Creates the Public Safety Strategies Task Force to evaluate state-funded programs, make sentencing recommendations, and create a cost-benefit analysis. Requires fiscal and revenue impact statements for all measures reported out of committee, instead of every bill introduced.

Increases penalties for certain property and drug crimes. Requires treatment services for medium to high risk drug offenders.

Pennsylvania

Allows a correctional officer to use force to prevent an inmate from escaping.

Creates guidelines for re-sentencing probation violators, and recommitment ranges for parole violators. Creates prison treatment programs that allow eligibility for early release. Streamlines parole decisions for non-violent offenders. Creates policies and procedures for medical release.

Rhode Island

Authorizes a judge to waive incarceration after a direct sentence to community confinement, increases the allowable maximum funds in an inmate bank account, and restores the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18.

Not Applicable.

South Carolina

Allows private contracts for inmate labor for service and export work.

Establishes day reporting centers for non-violent offenders. Creates the State Sentencing Reform Commission to study sentencing guidelines, the parole system and alternative sentencing procedures.

South Dakota

Not Applicable.

Requires an annual report by the Corrections Commission that reviews current felonies, sentences, practices, programs, trends and initiatives. Appropriates funds for an intensive methamphetamine treatment program for incarcerated women.

Tennessee

Declares a defendant being sentenced for a third or subsequent felony is not a favorable candidate for an alternative to incarceration and redefines first-degree murder. Creates good time for inmates who complete education or vocational programs, and allows confiscated cash to be used to combat drug trafficking in prisons.  Requires a contractual agreement for out-of-state prisoners.

Creates the Drug Court Advisory Committee. Creates regional jail authorities for constructing and operating jails. Requests a study of children of incarcerated parents. Authorizes the transfer of inmates to local correctional facilities to participate in reentry programs. Requests the fiscal review committee to research the way incarceration costs are calculated.

Texas

Increases allowable daily prison populations, creates maximum parole officer caseloads, makes changes to eligibility and program requirements for community supervision sentences, and creates a progressive sanctions community supervision grant program.  Establishes the Criminal Justice Legislative Oversight Committee.

No Regular Session.

Utah

Not Applicable.

Stipulates a parolee is subject to search and seizure without a warrant when evidence of a parole violation exists.

Vermont

Requires development of recommendations for the needs of mentally ill inmates.  Requires creation of a strategic plan to reduce the number of inmates.

Authorizes unsupervised probation for certain low-level offenders. Specifies that a condition of probation that prohibits the offender from engaging in legal behavior may not be imposed unless it is reasonably related to the offender's rehabilitation or to reduce risk to public safety. Caps community supervision caseload numbers.  Allows the use of electronic monitoring, voice recognition telephone equipment and alcohol use monitoring equipment for probation, parole, and furlough supervision. Instructs the use of substance abuse assessments for reentry planning. Consolidates the women's prisons and converts one into a therapeutic work camp for men. Provides that savings realized from facility reorganization will be used to for substance abuse screening, assessment and treatment and reentry assistance. Requires reports on expanding the use of transition units for work release, data related to new and expanded programs, and needs of children of arrested and incarcerated parents. 

Virginia

Not Applicable.

Requires a reentry plan for each person incarcerated. Sets the maximum incarceration that may be imposed as a sanction for probation and parole violations. Eliminates parole eligibility for inmates convicted of misdemeanors and sentenced to more than 12 months incarceration. Allows jail inmates to perform work on private property used by a nonprofit organization.

Washington

Establishes a comprehensive offender reentry system, requires an analysis of current reentry programs, and directs construction of new reentry facilities.  Creates good time for offenders who participate in programming and requires task forces to review community supervision and community corrections workloads.

Requires a study on the state's current and future capacity to incarcerate community supervision violators. Establishes an oversight committee to develop moral and character-building residential services for inmates. Authorizes the appointment of institutional chaplains.

West Virginia

Creates inmate work programs in county jails and an inmate bank account for income earned through the work program.

Not Applicable.

Wisconsin

Not Applicable.

Allows counties to establish community service programs in which inmates can earn good time.

Wyoming

Not Applicable.

Authorizes administrative sanctions as an alternative to revocation for parole violations. Authorizes earned time for parole. Creates medical parole, specifies conditions for eligibility, and empowers the parole board to grant medical parole to qualifying inmates.

Not Applicable—2007 and/or 2008 enacted legislation is not applicable to this report.
No Regular Session—No regular 2008 legislative session.

This reports on legislation enacted Jan. 1, 2007 – Dec. 31, 2008, related to state sentencing and corrections laws. Policy information is based on NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program enactment research, powered by Statenet.  Law highlighted are selected measures and may not represent an exhaustive list; state legislative websites can be accessed via http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=17173.

For information on sentencing and corrections enacted legislation from other years; see Significant Sentencing and Corrections Legislation in 2009 and State Sentencing and Corrections Legislation in 2010.

For further information on this topic, contact Alison Lawrence, (303) 364-7700 or cj-info@ncsl.org.