Report | Sentencing | Parole process | August 2011
By the National Conference of State Legislatures
Sentencing policies provide the means to hold offenders accountable and reduce the likelihood that they will commit new crimes. Protecting the public is the key objective of sentencing actions, and state laws provide guidance on which offenders should receive prison terms and for how long, and which offenders are suitable for community supervision or other alternatives. Legislatures provide courts, corrections departments and parole boards with a set of sentencing options and sanctions for offenders; they also set requirements for offender assessment to guide appropriate placements.
To ensure that sentencing policies are most effectively protecting the public, legislatures can review certain crime classifications, enhance sentencing options, and consider time-served requirements and release policies.