Monday, July 30, 2007

MO Does It Right

The premier sentencing commission right now is not, sorry to all you usual suspects, VA or NC or MN, as good as they are. The distinction right now belongs to MO, whose commission has put together the state of the art online, data-based, risk assessment system for judges at sentencing and whose DOC has started “community supervision centers” in the old “break the cycle” mold that allows revoked probationers or parolees to be sent to those facilities instead of taking up beds in the state prisons. The result? The state has the largest decline in prison pop in the country. We talked about going this way in WI when I directed the commission there, but that commission never could get itself together. I still think this is what the “new” commission states or wannabes need to be considering. Data about sentences and their effectiveness, risk assessment tools up front to judges when sentences are actually given and not after the fact, community resources to deal with the folks who lapse but are trying. It’s not rocket science. Third time is apparently the charm for MO, which had two commissions before this one. They’re headed straight now. Let’s hope other states are paying attention.

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