Document Type


Publication Title

Federal Sentencing Reporter

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Criminal justice reform has had a firm place in news headlines for more than a decade. When the mass incarceration crisis came to the fore in 2008, with reports that one in a hundred adults in America was behind bars, there had already long been cries for reducing the prison and jail populations. Reform has mainly been sought through two approaches: consensus through ballot initiative or legislative compromise. But these modes of reform share a fundamental failure: both often lack a clear articulation of the purpose of criminal sentencing. In other words, “What’s the point?” Without an agreement on the underlying purpose of criminal punishment, neither method of pursuing changes in the criminal justice system can ever produce meaningful, long-standing reform.


Federal Sentencing Reporter article link:

© 2019 Vera Institute of Justice.



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