Principle 1: Reserve prison beds for people who are dangerous
- Restore the sentencing commission and reassess the impact of sentencing guidelines to ensure that drug and property offenders are not incarcerated unnecessarily and that sentences for crimes against persons are proportionate to the offense.
- Increase the availability of drug courts, mental health courts and community-based alternatives to prison.
Principle 2: Encourage and enable prisoners to earn successful re-entry
- Increase the availability of effective in-prison programs for substance abuse, mental health, sex offender and assaultive offender treatment.
- Increase the availability of in-prison family support programs and vocational skills training; reduce legal barriers to employment.
- Permit prisoners to earn up to seven days per month in credit against their sentences for satisfactory participation in academic, vocational and treatment programs, satisfactory work performance and full compliance with prison regulations.
- Permit prisoners to begin returning to the community up to eight months before their first parole date, to enable the parole board to make better-informed decisions about the person’s ability to function in the community and to promote successful re-entry once parole is granted.
Principle 3: Define and enforce the scope of parole board discretion
- Create a statutory presumption that parole will be granted after the prisoner serves the minimum time his or her sentence requires unless the prisoner has a poor institutional record or objective factors demonstrate the prisoner is a current threat to public safety.
- Ensure the parole guidelines appropriately weight variables based on their ability to predict the risk of re-offending. Ensure the guidelines are applied consistently by recording parole interviews, permitting appeals of parole denials and scoring them for all prisoners, including parolable lifers.
- Establish a separate “special” parole board, composed of seven members with civil service protection, to handle all cases that require public hearings (commutations and lifer paroles) and parole revocation decisions.
- Limit the revocation of parole to circumstances where the parolee has been convicted of a new crime or engaged in conduct that clearly demonstrates that leaving the parolee in the community at any level of supervision would pose an actual danger to public safety.
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