- Showing 4 posts filed under: Country:USA [–] published between Jul 01, 2009 and Jul 31, 2009 [Show all]
More cautionary tales from the US
The US-based research and advocacy organization The Sentencing Project has just released a report called No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America. They summarize their findings as follows:
While persons serving life sentences include those who present a serious threat to public safety, they also include those for whom the length of sentence is questionable. In particular, life without parole sentences often represent a misuse of limited correctional resources and discount the capacity for personal growth and rehabilitation that comes with the passage of time. This report challenges the supposition that all life sentences are necessary to keep the public safe, compared to a term of fewer years. We conclude with recommendations for changes in law, policy and practice which would, if adopted, address the principal deficiencies in the sentencing of people to life in prison.
Limiting DNA testing and denying justice to victims
But for God’s sake, if we know we have hundreds or thousands of innocents behind bars must we not do everything in our power to set them free if we live in a civilized society? Absolutely. This court ruling will now make this work harder and slower.
As I said earlier, crime victims are hurt - not helped - by this ruling. The challenge on top of this urgent need to free those who are wrongfully convicted is to remember then that someone who is actually guilty of that crime is free at large. Ask a crime victim how they would view that fact. Having worked in the restorative justice field for 15 years I can tell you that crime victims want the system to get it right. There can be no restoration of crime victims, nor can there be offender accountability - two key elements of restorative justice, if the real perpetrator is not caught.
More cautionary news from the US
By Dan Van Ness
United States public officials are reconsidering sentencing policies, driven by the increasingly high cost implications of current laws and practices. Mandatory sentencing laws, including Three Strikes legislation adopted in a number of states, take discretion away from judges and require prison sentences (often quite lengthy) be served.
Civilizing offenders requires community relationships
This is the last of four columns in a series about the nation’s oldest and most mature restorative juvenile justice system.