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Paying for the past : the case against prior record sentence enhancements

Author: Richard S Frase; Julian V Roberts
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2019]
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Virtually all modern sentencing systems consider the offender’s prior record to be an important determinant of the form and severity of punishment, often carrying more weight than the crime being sentenced. Repeat offenders “pay for their past,” even though they have already been punished for their prior crimes. And the majority of sentenced offenders have at least one prior conviction. This topic thus lies at the  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Richard S Frase; Julian V Roberts
ISBN: 9780190254001 0190254009
OCLC Number: 1081339180
Description: xiv, 315 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents: Introduction: Prior record sentencing enhancements in context --
Retributive perspectives on an offender's criminal or crime-free past --
Prior record and the risk of recidivism --
What other factors indicate high or low recidivism risk? --
Are record-based enhancements a cost-effective and fair way to reduce crime? --
The effects of prior convictions on sentence severity / co-author Rhys Hester --
Adverse impacts on offense-based proportionality and prison-use priorities / co-author Rhys Hester --
Disproportionate impacts on minority offenders / co-author Rhys Hester --
Impacts of criminal history enhancements on prison bed needs and costs / co-author Rhys Hester --
The long arm of the law : look-back provisions --
Problematic components found in many criminal history formulas --
The model regime --
Appendix A. Representative criminal history provisions in U.S. guidelines --
Appendix B. Representative provisions from other common law systems --
Appendix C. Some offender groups that may require special treatment.
Responsibility: Richard S. Frase and Julian V. Roberts.

Abstract:

Virtually all modern sentencing systems consider the offender’s prior record to be an important determinant of the form and severity of punishment, often carrying more weight than the crime being sentenced. Repeat offenders “pay for their past,” even though they have already been punished for their prior crimes. And the majority of sentenced offenders have at least one prior conviction. This topic thus lies at the heart of the sentencing process; every well-designed sentencing scheme needs to have a carefully conceived approach to the use of prior convictions. But the vast literature on sentencing policy, law, and practice has generally overlooked this issue. Moreover, the apparent justifications for prior record enhancement—the repeat offender’s assumed greater culpability and risk of re-offending—are uncertain, and have rarely been subjected to critical appraisal. Nor has sufficient attention been paid to the substantial negative consequences of such enhancements, which: increase the size and expense of prison populations; impose penalties disproportionate to offense severity; fill prisons with nonviolent and aging, lower-risk offenders; increase racial disproportionality in prison populations; and undermine offenders’ efforts to reintegrate into society. This book focuses on prior record enhancements under sentencing guidelines systems in the United States because sentencing rules operate more transparently in those systems. But the policy implications are much broader. Similar enhancements are informally applied, with substantial impacts, when judges sentence without guidelines. And most jurisdictions have statutes (three-strikes and career-offender laws; higher penalties for second and subsequent violations) that impose much more severe penalties on repeat offenders.

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