Sunday, October 21, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, October 21, 2007


NCJ 219865
Catherine Appleton; Bent Grover
Pros and Cons of Life Without Parole
British Journal of Criminology
Volume:47 Issue:4 Dated:July 2007 Pages:597 to 615

This paper critically assesses the main arguments for life imprisonment without parole (LWOP) as a punishment to replace the death penalty and then argues against life-long imprisonment as the ultimate sanction. A brief overview of LWOP focuses on related statues in the United States and related trends in the U.S. incarceration rate. A critical evaluation of the rationale for LWOP focuses on public protection, retribution, and deterrence as its foremost benefits. It concludes that these rationales are undermined by lack of empirical support. It then argues that any benefits for public safety that may be linked to LWOP are trumped by its lack of regard for human rights and human dignity. Van Zyl Smit argues that there are two aspects of LWOP that make it particularly destructive to human dignity, i.e., its indeterminacy and differences in the regimes to which life-sentence prisoners are subjected. Further, in a landmark decision in 1977, the German Federal Constitutional Court recognized that LWOP invariably involves the loss of personal dignity and the related denial of the right to rehabilitation. The court reasoned that the loss of all hope of ever being released inevitably accompanies LWOP and inherently undermines human dignity. Most legal systems have responded to this concern by setting a fixed period of imprisonment for retribution and deterrence, after which the prisoner must be considered for release. By contrast, such discussion has been absent in the United States since the mid-1970s, when this argument failed to persuade a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court to abolish the death penalty. This paper argues that LWOP faces many, if not all, of the objections to the death sentence and is therefore unacceptable in civilized society. 67 references

NCJ 219876
Roger Arthur Bowles; Chrisostomos Florackis
Duration of the Time to Reconviction: Evidence From UK Prisoner Discharge Data
Journal of Criminal Justice
Volume:35 Issue:4 Dated:July/August 2007 Pages:365 to 378

This study used duration models in order to examine reconviction risks for a sample of 34,126 offenders released from prison in England and Wales during 1998. Results show that the reconviction rates for the total sample, the sample of males, and the sample of females over the period of 2 years from release were 57.56, 58.02, and 54.42 percent respectively. The majority reoffended within the first 12 months after their release. The study found that a 1-year increase in age decreased the risk of reconviction within 2 years by almost 5 percent. On average, there was evidence that male offenders had a higher risk for reconviction than female offenders, also the greater the number of previous convictions, the higher the risk of reconviction. The risk of reconviction was relatively low for offenses of violence, sex, fraud-forgery, and drugs. Offenders previously convicted for burglary and theft had a higher risk for reconviction. White offenders had a higher risk of reconviction than offenders of other races, and offenders whose initial sentence was imprisonment had a lower risk of reconviction than other offenders. The study advises that the structure of resettlement support to released prisoners can be more effective by using risk estimates to infer peak reconviction risk intervals for offenders with various characteristics. The prisoners in the study involved all who were released from prison during calendar year 1998, excluding those for whom the full battery of data were not available. Different versions of the Cox proportional hazards model were applied to the dataset that covered several offense types. 5 tables, 7 figures, 17 notes, and 48 references

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