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Copyright (c) 1984 The University of Illinois
University of Illinois Law Review

SYMPOSIUM: PRISON CROWDING: GUIDELINES FOR INCARCERATION DECISIONS: A PARTISAN REVIEW

1984

University of Illinois Law Review

1984 U. Ill. L. Rev. 291

Author

Michael A Gottfredson * and Don M. Gottfredson **

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

Prison overcrowding is one of the most serious problems facing the criminal justice system in the United States today. This article argues that policy control methods using decision guidelines can and should be used as one means of reducing the prison crowding problem. Except for adding new capacity, solutions to prison crowding must either reduce admissions, shorten sentence lengths, or accelerate releases. 1 In view of these alternatives, a first set of proposed solutions to the problem of prison crowding often has been called "front door" options (e.g., those implemented at the time of sentencing). A second set of proposed solutions has been called "back door" options (e.g., those implemented at the time of parole). Other accelerated release mechanisms such as "emergency powers acts" 2 or release from prison to intensive community supervision 3 have been called "trap door" options. 4 This article gives examples of the needs for policy models using guidelines for decision making for each of these kinds of choices. Although the article emphasizes that these models can assist markedly in alleviating the crowding problem, other benefits of guidelines are also discussed. The concepts of "policy models" and of "guidelines" are used with specific meanings, and therefore the conceptual framework and the essential features of the methods the article advocates must be described as well.

As a prelude, consider how one might go about predicting prison populations in a given jurisdiction over the next several years. One commonly ...
 
 
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