Realignment of Incarcerative Punishment: Sentencing Reform and the Conditions of Confinement
62 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2012
Date Written: 2012
Part I of this article begins with a review of the state of incarceration as viewed through the lens of prison populations. Then in Part II, the Supreme Court’s watershed decision in Brown v. Plata is explored, along with an analysis of its justifications for upholding a mass release order to remedy the inadequate medical and mental health facilities in an overcrowded state prison system. Part III describes California’s novel choice of realignment legislation to comply with this order as a legislative approach that does not result in mass release but rather a mass redirection of incoming offenders away from state prisons and into the local corrections system. The potential for criminal sentencing reform inspired by the Court’s decision and the state’s realignment policy are further explored in Part IV, which examines past and present efforts to fine-tune incarcerative sentencing outcomes mindful of the conditions of confinement. Finally, additional suggestions for uncovering and taking into account the conditions of confinement as an aid to reform are considered at different points along the adjudication spectrum.
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