Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions

I've been reading the recs of the ABA's Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions that will apparently be considered in February next year. The usual well-done work, with separate resolutions and reports on alternatives to incarceration, improvements in probation and parole supervision, employment and licensure of former convicts, access and use of crim history info by non-law enforcement types, presentation of info on the collateral consequences of accepting conviction pleas, and "training in the exercise of discretion" by all crim just professionals from the judges down (or up, depending on your point of view). Good summaries of the known research and practice, well-thought resolutions, nothing probably profoundly new to you if you follow these issues at all. What was surprising to me (at least for a nanosecond) was that, although the ABA's Criminal Justice Section and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association endorsed all the resolutions on all the topics, the National District Attorneys Association refused to concur with making sure defendants knew all they were giving up after completing their sentence (voting, access to licensed professions, etc.) and with encouraging policies to provide more employment opportunities for offenders upon completion. I can see why they would fear anything that might cause fewer pleas, but I'm befuddled by the failure to endorse helping offenders get gainfully employed and off the crime market. If someone has an answer that is anything other than spiting all our faces to indulge their . . . well, please just let me know. In any case, the recs are sound and should receive serious consideration. Should.

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