Monday, July 13, 2009

The Rule of 10

I started last week with the proposition that sentences for violent crime are too long and that overly long sentences for the violent anchors a system of mass imprisonment. I want to come back later to the dynamics that might explain how fear of violence generates support for incarcerating the disorderly, but for now I want to raise a more provocative point. How long should prison sentences be for violent crime? I do not have an answer, but I do I have a hunch I'd love to get some reaction to, it is what I'll call, the rule of 10. Putting aside what to do with violent recidivists (a person who serves a lengthy prison term for a violent crime and then commits another such crime on release), and the kinds of especially heinous murders that are sometimes still punished with death in the United States, persons convicted of willful injury (or even killing) another, should generally be released after not more than 10 years of imprisonment. (I'll reserve for now the question of whether indeterminacy could be built into that to prevent the release of those prisoners who seem to pose a particularly extended risk given their behavior in prison).

[read the rest of this post at Prawfsblawg]

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