Monday, October 01, 2012

Number of Repeat Offenders Decline, But Judges Still Want Law Fixed

A study released last week by the Washington-based Council of State Governments' Justice Center indicated "significant statewide recidivism reductions achieved in Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont for prison releases between 2005 and 2007."

"For each state," the study's briefing says, "it compared three-year post-release recidivism rates for two cohorts: people exiting prison in 2005 and those released in 2007. The data is among the most current available for statewide three-year recidivism rates. Some states saw particularly sharp reductions during this period, such as Kansas, which achieved a 15-percent decline, and Michigan, which saw an 18-percent ... Ohio showed an 11-persent reduction."

The Justice Center cautioned, though, that while its "brief highlights a cross-section of states with robust, current data that reflect improvements, it is not a comprehensive research report, nor is it an evaluation of any state's recidivism efforts, assessing how changes in the recidivism rate in each state correlate to particular changes in policy or practice."

None-the-less, this morning noted cases in which the same law that has helped Ohio reduce its inmate population is also being criticized as too restrictive by many judges seeking more leeway in sentencing,

"The issue came to a head of sorts last week in Washington County at the sentencing for a man who pleaded guilty last month to a fourth-degree felony of unlawful sexual conduct with a 14-year-old boy," the article related. "Judge Susan Boyer expressing her dissatisfaction with the law and warning the offender, Nicholas Leach, that he would be sent to prison if he violated any of the conditions she was imposing -- 90 days in jail and 90 days in a secure treatment center -- told the man, 'At this point, the court does not have available to it the option to send you to prison. But let me be clear: If the court had that option, you would be going.'"

  Assistant Washington County prosecutor Kevin Rings was also quoted as commenting that it was the first time in his career he'd seen a sex offender escape prison.

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