The Criminal Justice System Impact of "Get Tough" Sentencing Reform: A Case Study

Nancy Merritt, RAND
Susan Turner, RAND

ABSTRACT
In the wake of "Get Tough" sentencing reform, it is reasonable to ask whether these laws have achieved the stated goals of requiring longer prison sentences for selected offenders and offenses. While relevant, this question does not take into account the larger impact of sentencing reforms upon criminal justice system operations. Based on analyses of sentencing and corrections data, as well as key informant interviews, this presentation reports the final findings of a three year implementation and impact study of Oregon's Measure 11, a "one-strike" mandatory minimum sentencing reform. The study utilizes several methodologies and analytic techniques to examine the implementation of mandatory minimum sentencing reforms. Specifically, the study reports on changes in charging and sentencing practices and the effect of these changes on the composition of sentenced populations and sentence length.

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Updated 05/20/2006