(Last Updated On: June 17, 2020)

Eight Keys to Mercy: how exactly to reduce exorbitant jail sentences


If states are dedicated to reversing mass incarceration, they have to be prepared to leaven retribution with mercy and target the long sentences imposed during more punitive periods in their state’s history. This report provides state leaders with eight methods to reduce extremely long jail sentences. All that is kept could be the will that is political.

In regards to the Prison Policy Initiative

The non-profit, non-partisan Prison Policy Initiative had been started in 2001 to reveal the wider damage of mass criminalization and spark advocacy promotions to create a far more simply society. The corporation is renowned for the artistic break down of mass incarceration when you look at the U.S., along with its data-rich analyses of just how states differ inside their utilization of punishment. The Prison Policy Initiative’s scientific studies are made to reshape debates around mass incarceration by providing the picture that is“big view of critical policy dilemmas, such as for instance probation and parole, pretrial detention, and reentry outcomes.

Concerning the author

Jorge Renaud is just a policy that is senior at the Prison Policy Initiative. A Masters is held by him in Social Perform through the University of Texas at Austin. Their work and scientific studies are forever informed by the years he invested in Texas prisons along with his years as being a grouped community organizer in Texas, dealing with those most impacted by incarceration.


This report will never have now been feasible with no input and expertise of numerous people. Laurie Jo Reynolds, Shaena Fazal, and Nora Demleitner offered important discusses parole systems during early drafts; and Alex Friedmann, Bernadette Rabuy, Eric Lotke, Janice Thompson, and Lois Ahrens all offered feedback that is invaluable. I will be particularly indebted to Margaret like on her behalf work with commutations and pardons, Patricia Garin for supplying leads on educational articles, to John Cooper of Safe and merely Michigan for maintaining me personally updated about unlawful justice reforms for the reason that state, to Families Against Mandatory Minimums because of their work that is excellent on launch, also to Edward E. Rhine regarding the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, both for their scholarship here as well as using time for you to offer quality about parole in most 50 states. Unique by way of Peter Wagner for providing much-needed quality and shaping, to Wanda Bertram for modifying, to Wendy Sawyer for visionary pictures, also to the others of my peers in the Prison Policy Initiative.


  1. Ashley Nellis, Ph.D. “Still lifestyle: America’s boosting utilization of Life and Long-Term Sentences. ” The Sentencing Venture. ?
  2. United states of america Department of Justice. Office of Justice Products. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nationwide Corrections Reporting Program, 1991-2015: Selected Variables. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Personal analysis. ?
  3. This isn’t to disregard split sentencing, a alternative system that eliminates parole choices entirely, whereby a defendant must both provide amount of time hottest babes in a prison or jail then finish a time period of community direction on probation. This report centers around shortening much much longer sentences, numerous for beliefs which are not usually qualified to receive split sentencing. Consequently, we’ll not deal with split sentencing right here. ?
  4. The “earliest release date” is simply that – a single day from which some body can first leave confinement. Numerous facets can influence that – as an example, whether that date is defined by statute or by way of a judge, and whether a state funds time that is good incarcerated people. In states with “Truth in Sentencing” guidelines, one’s earliest launch date is much nearer to the termination of this phrase, as a result laws and regulations need an individual to provide as much as 85 per cent (or maybe more) of the phrase before being considered for launch; etc. ?
  5. See for instance, the Robina Institute’s list, “Parole panels with Indeterminate and Determinate Sentencing Structures” and an effort that is similar the nationwide Conference of State Legislatures, “Making feeling of Sentencing: State Systems and Policies” (p. 5). ?
  6. For instance, some states take advantage of mandatory and/or parole that is discretionary, but exclude them for violent or sex-related offenses, which means that people with the longest sentences will provide all, or just about all, of this maximum length of time they are able to invest in jail. Plus some states grant the parole board discretion to deny individuals release for also these brief regards to community direction. ?

In 2016, BJS states that Illinois had 23,889 people who “entered” parole. Just 18 of these people had been provided discretionary parole, as those people committed their crimes before 1978. Anybody convicted of crimes committed after 1978 in Illinois must provide a particular portion of these phrase and it is released under mandatory direction, perhaps maybe not discretionary parole. The exact same situation exists in Florida. In 2016, 6,110 people “entered” parole, with 34 of these being issued discretionary parole for crimes committed before 1983. One other 5,363 people had been released under mandatory guidance. Most of these people had been at the mercy of supervision that is parole revocation, regardless how these were released.