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Harsh incarceration sentences don’t reduce recidivism

| Jul 10, 2020 | Alternatives To Jail

One primary concern of the court system is trying to discourage people from committing crimes. Some individuals tend to think of this as requiring incredibly harsh sentences to try to teach the individuals a lesson. A study published by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in July of 2020 concludes that there isn’t a statistically significant difference in recidivism rates for people who were released early from prison and those who were made to serve their entire sentence.

The study looked at the Drugs Minus Two Amendment that took effect on November 1, 2014. As part of its application, certain drug crimes saw a reduction in the sentencing guidelines, particularly the mandatory minimum sentences for those convictions. This led to the act being applied retroactively for some individuals who were still incarcerated under the laws that were in effect prior to that date.

What the study found was that public safety considerations often have a greater role in whether recidivism will become an issue in a specific case. Instead of relying solely on the circumstances of the criminal act, the person’s criminal history and other factors played a role in the ultimate sentence they would serve.

The presence of supportive and rehabilitative programs in prisons, as well as post-release support and monitoring, were cited as factors in the study. Both the individuals who were released with shorter sentences and those who served their longer, original sentence had median recidivism times of approximately 15 months. The group with retroactive sentencing had a recidivism rate of 27.9%, while the comparison group had a rate of 30.5%.

This study shows that harsh sentencing isn’t always the answer. In Connecticut, people who are facing certain charges and meet specific qualifications may be able utilize alternatives to jail. Finding out if you qualify for these is the first step, so speak to your attorney to find out if there are any that work for your situation.