Report Concludes Long Sentences May Be Counterproductive
Date:  04-14-2014

Harsh sentences do not have significant impact on increasing public safety
The Sentencing Project published a new article Approaches to Working with Long-Term Prisoners that illustrates that the threat of receiving a long-term sentence does not act as a deterrent from committing a crime. The Sentencing Project report “Deterrence in Criminal Justice: Evaluation Certainty Versus Severity of Punishment” found that half of all state prisoners were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time they committed a crime making rational thinking about the consequences of their actions difficult if not impossible.

Further, according to the long sentences can be counterproductive in that they cut ties with family and community, making reintegration more difficult.

According to the Sentencing Project: Research shows that increasingly long prison terms do not produce greater deterrent effects and that even incapacitation—preventing future criminal offending—becomes less significant as prisoners get older. Further, the behavior of incarcerated prisoners is likely to be predictive of their behavior on release. Programs targeted at assisting long-term prisoners during incarceration may strengthen public safety.

Source: The Sentencing Project