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Title:Illinois Government Research no. 56 1983: Prison Capacity and Sentencing Severity: A Look at Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania
Author(s):Nardulli, Peter F.
Subject(s):Illinois government
State government
Abstract:After a brief lull in the late seventies and early eighties, crime is once again a prime concern among a large number of Americans. More people are mentioning crime in periodic surveys of public problems than in the previous decade, and the 1982 governor's race in California may have been won at the eleventh hour by a strong law and order appeal. In the minds of many, criminal punishment is an integral part of the crime problem and society's efforts to combat it. It is viewed as both a real and a symbolic deterrent to crime, every bit as important as a mobile, effective police force. This has led to a reexamination of sentencing practices and a revision of sentencing codes, an increase in minimum punishments, and even new prison construction. Illinois, for example, moved from an interdeterminate to a determinate sentencing code, abolished its parole board, and enacted Class X legislation providing more severe sentences for selected heinous crimes. More recently it has embarked upon a campaign to increase its state penal capacity. Indeed, a recent report of the Illinois Economic and Fiscal Commission shows that the Department of Corrections received 75 percent of all new capital project dollars for FY 1983 — in excess of $80 million. Many students of criminal courts have doubted the effectiveness of these reforms. They note the low visibility of most sentencing decisions and the vested interest of most criminal court practitioners in the status quo. Of particular concern are the long-established "going rates" for routine offenses on which county plea bargaining practices are based. To better understand the sentencing process — and improve our chances to reform it — we undertook a long-term comparative study of criminal courts. The focus of the present essay is on factors that affect sentencing severity. Such factors are, of course, of special interest to those concerned with increasing the deterrent effect of sentencing.
Issue Date:1983-04
Publisher:Institute of Government and Public Affairs. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Series/Report:Illinois Government Research, no. 56 (April 1983)
Genre:Working / Discussion Paper
Publication Status:published or submitted for publication
Rights Information:Copyright 1983 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-12-06

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