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Intermediate Sanctions in Sentencing Guidelines

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1997
71 pages
This report describes and assesses the different approaches used by several States to design coordinated sentencing and intermediate sanctions policies and to implement sentencing guidelines that encompass incarceration, probation, and intermediate sanctions rather than only prison and jail sentences.
Increasing numbers of States are using sentencing guidelines and intermediate sanctions. However, major evaluations of boot camps, intensive-supervision probation, and other intermediate sanctions reveal that many new programs do not reduce recidivism, corrections costs, or prison use. Net widening is a central issue. Sentencing guidelines may be the way to eliminate or reduce net widening. To this end, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have recently adopted guidelines systems incorporating standards for the use of intermediate sanctions. The early data from North Carolina suggest that such an approach can be effective. Possible techniques include the provision of more zones of discretion than traditional guidelines contain, the definition of generic punishment units into which all sanctions can be converted, the use of exchange rates between custodial and noncustodial penalties, and the authorization of categorical exceptions. Zones of discretion and categorical exceptions have promising roles in this effort. These techniques represent modest incremental steps toward creating comprehensive sentencing systems. Tables, figures, and chapter notes

Date Published: May 1, 1997