Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

The Former Prison Official’s Case for Criminal Justice Reform

with one comment

Via Doug Berman, I noticed this Trenton Times op-ed by David Shebses, who worked for many years as supervisor for education and then as executive assistant to the warden at New Jersey’s East Jersey State Prison. Shebses provides a list of recommendations for curbing corrections costs and restoring proportionality to the criminal justice system. Here are the first few:

1) Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for all crimes. The Legislature should provide general ranges of time from which judges could impose more proportionate sentences that match up with the crime and its circumstances. Proportionality in sentencing serves the ends of justice.

2) Stop incarcerating most people who are convicted of using most drugs. The Legislature should figure out which illegal substances should be decriminalized, and to what extent. I would still prosecute drug dealers when their motivation is clearly profiting from the drug trade. But the guy who is mainly a user, or who deals drugs incidental to his own use, should not, generally, be incarcerated. Treated, yes; not imprisoned.

3) Abolish the parole system. Parole is based on a false premise, namely, that it is possible to predict human behavior. It is not possible. …

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Written by sara

August 10, 2010 at 11:34 am

One Response

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  1. corrections costs are directly proportional to the influx of offenders into prisons, and the length of time they spend inside.
    decrease the numbers sentenced to prison, reduce terms of those that you sentence, and you realize savings.
    parole, as a philosophy, and in practice, acts as an additional safety valve and as a reward for good behaviors of inmates inside prisons. It can ameliorate harsh/disproportionate sentencing, and of course, help reduce and/or contain costs, by reducing inmate populations.
    perfect in its’ application?….no. But it allows for the access to community, family, employment, social services, government benefits and entitlements that are not available inside institutions or under the status of inmate, just by letting the inmate cross over the boundary of custody to community corrections.
    As to the argument of early release, most paroles are served day for day, and an inmate who refuses parole, actually serves less of their full sentence by getting basic credits for time served, and MAX-OUT earlier to our same communities without any of the benefits that parole would have availed.
    Predicting post release behaviors has proven far better under all forms of the paroling process as studies have shown that inmates who MAX-OUT from custody recidivate at a significantly higher rate than do parolees.

    no, but if you you just all

    harry flashman

    August 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm


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