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Criminal Justice Legislation

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 24 Issue: 2 Dated: February 1999 Pages: 1-3
J Turpin; D Lyons
Date Published
3 pages
This first of a two-part report on 1998 corrections-related State legislation focuses on adult corrections; next month's focus will be on juvenile corrections.
A total of 25 States passed new laws dealing with sex offenders. The trend was for longer prison terms. Sex offenders will face possible civil commitment, no-parole sentences, extended and intensive supervision in the community, and tighter registration requirements. Measures similar to "Megan's Law," which notifies the public of the presence of sex offenders, were added or expanded in several States. Three more States -- Kentucky, New York, and Wisconsin -- abolished parole. Other State laws increased parole supervision. These included additional drug treatment, education, and job placement assistance. Most community corrections programs required closer supervision, including new restrictions on program eligibility and compliance requirements. A number of States expanded the crimes that can be considered capital felonies or added new aggravating circumstances. Laws to curb frivolous inmate lawsuits were passed in at least 10 States. Legislatures in Delaware and Utah proposed constitutional amendments to restore the right to vote to felons who have completed their sentences. State legislative interest in privatized corrections continued in 1998; however, the proposal that Tennessee carried forward into its 1998 session, which would have expanded privatization to nearly the entire prison system, did not pass. Still, legislation that addressed the terms and conditions of the contracts for prison or jail space or services passed in several States. A number of State legislatures showed their commitment to victims' interests and measures that seek to prevent crime and victimization. Victim notification, participation, and compensation were popular topics for legislation in 1998, and Wisconsin implemented a broad victims' rights amendment; Mississippi put such a proposal before its electorate. A chart shows the States that passed laws pertinent to specified corrections topics.