Category Archives: Incarceration Rates

Massachusetts Trial Court Offers Evidence-Based Best Sentencing Practices

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The Massachusetts Trial Court departments that have a major role in sentencing have produced sentencing best practices documents. This is a significant achievement. Here is an article describing the key Best Practice Principles. They are the product of more than a year of hard work by broad-based committees and are extraordinary data-driven consensus best practices recommendations for judges and practitioners.  Here is the Superior Court PDF including the Best Practice Principles and Commentary, and the website for all of the documents.

Incarceration of Hispanics in MA

policeline.jpgJuly 2016 Update: The Sentencing Project has issued a comprehensive report on race and incarceration. Here is the PDF of the report (The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prison), and here is the website introducing the report. It suggests that Massachusetts has the highest ratio of disparity of Hispanic to white incarceration; stated another way, the difference between incarceration of Hispanics and whites in Massachusetts may be the highest in the U.S.

Based on 2014 State Prison data The Sentencing Project has released incarceration data by race for Massachusetts. Per 100,000 population whites, blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated at a rate of 82:655:401. For example, 82 whites were incarcerated per 100,000 white population, 655 blacks per 100,000 black population and 401 Hispanics per 100,000 Hispanic population.

These large disparities are typical for the U.S. However, the recent data highlights the disparity between incarceration of Hispanics and whites in Massachusetts, the data shows that the ratio of disparity, for example, between Hispanics and whites in Massachusetts is much higher than in most of the U.S. (4.9:1 Massachusetts versus 1.3:1 National). Here is the document:

Hispanic Incarceration in Massachusetts

The Economics of Crime

money.jpgThe George Mason University School of Law Judicial Education Program presented an excellent program on the economics of crime, formally titled “Judicial Symposium on Using the Law and Economics to Reform the System of Criminal Justice: Theory, Empirical Evidence and Some Applications. There was lots of thought provoking material presented including that incarceration and other sanctions can be viewed much as in torts law, as costs that are part of a cost-benefit analysis. The upshot is that if some of our criminal justice dollars were spent elsewhere, we would have less crime and fewer victims. There was lots of great information conveyed in this conference with the entire program on video on the web.

In particular see the presentations by Jonathan Klick (University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Rand Corporation) on what I’m calling cost-benefit analysis of crime, Paul Larkin (Heritage Foundation) on over-criminalization, and Alexes Harris (University of Washington), on fees on individuals in the criminal justice system. Here is the entire conference on video and here is the entire package of pre-conference materials. Here are some selected notes on the program. This is one of the top programs I’ve seen recently on this subject so I recommend watching the videos. Good work by the George Mason University School of Law, Law and Economics Center and Judicial Education Program and their partners.

 

What Caused the Crime Decline?

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This small to medium-sized 2015 PDF-book from the Brennan Center at New York University subjects the possible causes of the large crime decline to a multi-variable regression analysis. It suggests that increases in incarceration will not reduce crime, and that the historical crime decline of the last 30 years is due to many factors: What Caused the Crime Decline? (2015) by Roeder, Eisen and Bowling

Moderate Effects of Incarceration on the Crime Rate

prison-370112_960_720This study is one of a number which suggest only a moderate impact of incarceration on the crime rate:

Reconsidering Incarceration: New Directions for Reducing Crime by Don Stemem, Vera Institute of Justice