Monday, February 8, 2010

Evidence-Based Sentencing

The Center for Sentencing Initiatives has available a new model curriculum developed by the National Center for State Courts, The National Judicial College, and the Crime and Justice Institute to assist trial judges in developing sentencing practices that improve public safety and reduce the risk of offender recidivism. Intended as a six-hour course, the program was developed to help judges:

- identify those offenders who are the most appropriate candidates for recidivism reduction strategies;

-target conditions of probation at relevant offender characteristics to achieve effective sentencing outcomes;

-improve responses to violations of probation;

-identify the components of effective probation supervision practices and treatment programs;

-reduce the risk of re-offense through positive interactions with offenders; and

-work effectively with other criminal justice agencies to adopt effective sentencing and corrections practices.

Let's hope this curriculum is noted by the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Texas Center for the Judiciary, and other entities concerned with educating Texas judges and attorneys in criminal justice. And take note, legislative staff, the closest thing in current law (1991) in Texas focuses attention (as we did back then) on diversions, it is (mis)placed in Government Code ch. 22 (Appellate Courts):

Sec. 22.012. TRAINING RELATED TO DIVERSIONS. (a) Each attorney representing the state in the prosecution of felonies and each district court judge shall, as an official duty, each year complete a course of instruction related to the diversion of offenders from confinement in the institutional division.
(b) The supreme court shall adopt rules to provide for the training required by Subsection (a). In adopting the rules, the court shall consult with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to obtain the department's recommendations for instruction content.
(c) The instruction must include information relating to:
(1) case law, statutory law, and procedural rules relating to felony diversions; and
(2) available community and state resources for diversions.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., 2nd C.S., ch. 10, Sec. 11.09(a), eff. Aug. 29, 1991

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