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Sentencing in a Free Society: The Failure of the President's Crime Commission to Influence Sentencing Policy

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 4 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1987) Pages: 545-569
M Zalman
Date Published
25 pages
The President's Crime Commission (1965-1967) made recommendations in corrections favoring the then leading ideas of rehabilitation and indeterminacy, shortly before a radical reappraisal led to the eclipse of the rehabilitative model in favor of 'just deserts.'
In coming to its conclusions, the Commission overlooked the potential growth of prison populations, the development of prisoners' rights, and research that pointed to the failure of rehabilitation. The inability of the Commission to anticipate this great change was due in part to the dynamics of and time pressures on a presidential commission. The change was precipitated by a social and intellectual crisis analogous to 'scientific paradigm' revolution described by Thomas Kuhn (1970). The crisis that led to a change in thinking about punishment was part of the large crisis of the political legitimacy of liberalism. (Publisher abstract)