California Justice Under Determinate Sentencing : A Review and Agenda For Research

by Albert J. Lipson, Mark A. Peterson


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A collection of information about what has happened in California since the determinate sentencing law substantially changed courtroom procedures for determining sentences and set a policy designed to assure more just, uniform sentencing practices. The state legislature has assumed direct control of sentencing, establishing definite terms for specified crimes. Judges determine the length of prison terms by selecting among defined ranges and state reasons for selected sentences. The Adult Authority and Women's Board was eliminated and replaced with the Community Release Board which reviews sentencing disparity. One result has been a sharp increase in the commitment rate to prison; between 1977 and 1978 there was a 12 percent increase in the felon population in prison. Proposals for further research include studies of the central role of the legislature in criminal sentencing; correctional programs and security; court implementation of sentencing policy; and the effects of prosecutorial discretion.

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