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Determinate Sentencing and Abolishing Parole: The Long-Term Impacts on Prisons and Crime

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 34 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1996) Pages: 107-128
Date Published
22 pages
This paper examines the impact of determinate sentencing laws (DSL's) on prison commitments, prison populations, and Uniform Crime Report crime rates.
Ten States enacted DSL's between 1976 and 1984; all abolished parole and most established presumptive sentences. Using a multiple time series design to control for national trends and facilitate the use of control variables, the research found that DSL's were clearly associated with prison population growth in only one State (Indiana) and with major reductions in two States (Minnesota and Washington). The remaining DSL's showed no evidence of increasing prison populations and may have actually reduced them somewhat. Estimated impacts on commitments were similarly varied. There was little or no evidence that DSL's affected crime rates. The authors conclude that DSL's are not likely to worsen prison overcrowding problems unless they are accompanied by "get tough" policies and that lawmakers can use DSL's to limit prison population growth if they so desire. 72 references and 4 tables

Date Published: January 1, 1996