AL Judges: In-prison sentencing greater than alternative


The Alabama Sentencing Commission has as part of its mandate the task of creating a “fair, effective, and efficient sentencing system” for the State of Alabama.  To this end, the Sentencing Commission developed and implemented worksheets to be voluntarily used by judges in an effort to “encourage utilization of the standards and alternative sentences for eligible offenders.” For more background, please read the full report here.

The following is an excerpt from the Sentencing Commission’s 2009 Annual Report that describes the Commission’s findings regarding the use of said worksheets by judges:

Figure 2 (bottom) is a flowchart displaying the “In/Out” worksheet recommendations and In/Out dispositions for the worksheets for which judicial compliance will be reported in this report. Box A shows the starting number of worksheets that are used to report judicial compliance – 11,485 worksheets.

Boxes B and C show the distribution of the “In/Out” recommendation for the 11,485 worksheets. The “In/Out” recommendations reflect the Prison vs. Non-Prison recommendation based on the total score of the “In/Out” worksheet. An “Out” disposition was recommended in 61 percent of the received worksheets and an “In” disposition was recommended in 39 percent of the received worksheets. For those worksheets with an “In” recommendation, an “In” disposition was imposed 79 percent of the time (Box E). For those worksheets with an “Out” recommendation, an “Out” disposition was imposed 72 percent of the time (Box F).

To follow-up on the bolded findings above, one sees that judges voluntarily followed the worksheets’ recommendations more often when the worksheet resulted in an “In” recommendation (79%), than they did when the worksheet recommended “Out” (72%).  And remember, these findings are only for those judges who used the worksheets.  The Sentencing Commission points out:

This information only reflects those sentencing worksheets submitted to the Sentencing Commission that were fully and properly completed for the offense of conviction, which was a worksheet offense. Wide variation exists across counties with regard to submitting worksheets to the Sentencing Commission for applicable worksheet cases. Submission compliance rates range from nearly 89 percent to zero. [emphasis added by AWRN] Statewide, the Sentencing Commission received 45 percent of sentencing worksheets for applicable worksheet sentencing events.

As shown in Figure 1, 12 counties had submission rates above 70%, 24 counties had submission rates between 50% and 70%, 18 counties had submission rates between 30% and 50%, and 13 counties had submission rates below 30%.

The shaded boxes in Figure 2 (Boxes E and F) indicate sentencing events that were “In/Out” compliant – that is a “prison” sentence was imposed for an “In” recommendation, or a “non-prison” sentence was imposed for an “Out” recommendation.

For a full list of compliance rates (worksheets received to worksheet sentencing events) by county, please view page 77 of the Sentencing Commission’s report.

Figure 2:

INOUT Sentencing

Advertisements

One Response

  1. SO, IT IS THE JUDGES DECRECTION TO USE THE WORK SHEETS OR NOT…..THE LENGTH OF TIME FOR THE OFFENSE IS STILL IN THE HANDS OF THE JUDGE PRESIDING??

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: