Live in Prison Everywhere?


Live in Prison Everywhere?

Why does Norway have a 21-year maximum prison sentence?

There are essentially five goals of sentencing: retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, restoration, and rehabilitation. The last of these, rehabilitation, is probably one of the most controversial. In the U.S., for example, rehabilitation is considered a secondary goal, after retribution. Americans want their prisoners punished first and rehabilitated second.

This appeals to a societal sense of justice and fair play that has considerable cultural inertia in our country. Any talk of prioritizing rehabilitation ahead of retribution very typically generates complaints about how doing so will endanger public safety, ignore the needs of crime victims, and—most damning of all—coddle criminals.Never mind that certain forms of rehabilitation have been shown through research to reduce the risk of future offending, we want our pound of flesh first and foremost.

The same is not true the world over, though. Norway, by contrast, has a very progressive approach to sentencing that prioritizes rehabilitation as a primary strategy for reducing future criminal behavior. That doesn’t mean they don’t use prisons, it just means that the conditions of confinement are geared toward reducing the risk that an offender will return to a life of crime after release

Why does Norway have a 21-year maximum prison sentence?

As the author well notes, not everyone shares American’s passion for punishment. As I often tell my students, one of the reasons we should become familiar with other cultures is that any system that has functioned successfully over a long period of time has to have some good ideas, and every culture needs thought renewal and the occasional shake up to develop. This is one of those ideas that deserves examination.

James Pilant

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Prison Population is Falling


 

Fear and Dread?
Fear and Dread?

Prison Population is Falling

The Washington Monthly – Ten Miles Square – Why The Prison Population is Falling

The number of people incarcerated went up every single year from the mid 1970s until 2009. Over that more than 30 year period, there have been economic booms and contractions, changes in the relative strength of the major political parties, alterations in the demographic makeup of the US general population, the waxing and waning of drug epidemics, and countless other changes in American life. What that should tell us is that any simple explanation for why America has the prison policy it does at any given time is wrong or at least incomplete.

Pew notes that over the past 5 years, incarceration fell in 29 states (ruling out another simple explanation: that this is all due to the court order to reduce overcrowding in California prisons). …

The Washington Monthly – Ten Miles Square – Why The Prison Population is Falling

 

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Change the Legal System?


109Change the Legal System?

Commentary: Right to counsel? It’s stacked against the poor | McClatchy

It turns out there is a gulf between the 1963 promise and the 2013 reality. It turns out one lawyer can be expected to try 400, 500, 600 cases a year. It turns out public defenders are so underfunded and overwhelmed it is not uncommon for a defendant to meet his attorney for the first time in court. It turns out the situation is so dire that in at least one jurisdiction a judge pressed tax attorneys and property lawyers into service in criminal court. It turns out poor people’s justice is to justice as monkey business is to business.

Ask Clarence Jones, who spent over a year in prison just waiting for an attorney — and was still there as the book went to press — on a charge of burglary.

Ask Carol Dee Huneke, a novice lawyer with no experience in criminal law who was hired as a public defender on a Thursday and assigned a case that began Monday. She had never even seen a trial before.

And ask Greg Bright, who spent 27 years in prison on a murder charge he might have easily beaten, writes Houppert, had his court-appointed attorney done even minimal investigation on his behalf. As a later attorney discovered, the single witness the state’s case hinged upon was a mentally-ill heroin addict with a history of hallucinations who physically could not have seen what she claimed she did.

Twenty-seven years. “Make me wanna holler,” indeed.

What is reflected here is not simply incompetence but disdain, contempt for the rights, lives and humanity of the less fortunate. And perhaps your instinct is to look away, secure in the naïve delusion that no one gets arrested unless they’ve “done something.” Truth is, it happens every day.

Commentary: Right to counsel? It’s stacked against the poor | McClatchy

 

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