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ABA Commission Recommends Improvements on Criminal Sentencing

Direct link to the ABA report in pdf format:

Date of Report from American Bar Association Commmission on Effective Criminal Sanctions: June 2006
Delivered to the ABA House of Delegates - August 2006 (awaiting final approval of the ABA at Large)

Another link to the ABA report:

ABA Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions

Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions (78 pages)

Qoutes Justice Kennedy on intial pages: "When the door is locked against the prisoner, we do not think about what is behind it."
Most states now spend more on their prison than on their schools. Kennedy says "Our resources are misspent, our punishments too severe, our sentences too long."

Says when judges train only with judges and when prosecutors train only with prosecutors, (probation officers with probation) etc., that preconceptions or misconceptions may be reinforced rather than challenged. Recommends cross training and inclusion of other professions.

Says that there is no organized training, no means of sharing information about alternative sentencing programs between prosecutors, and no way of analyzing the programs' strengths and weaknesses. Says a trained prosecutor should strive for a greater awareness of available alternatives, and greater knowledge of the sanctions that are most likely to be effective in reducing crime and victimization in the long run.

Prosecutors all understand that they have an obligation to "seek justice," but there is not common understanding of what that means in a particular situation. Too many prosecutors, "seeking justice" may simply mean zealously pursuing a conviction and seeking the most severe sentence the law allows. There is insufficient familiarity with a variety of community-based programs or concepts. It is easy for prosecutors to charge whatever offense might be described in a police report, and to seek to maximize the potential prison sentence an individual may receive in every case. But, easy is not necessarily smart or just, and not necessarily in the best interests of the community.

This ABA report also comes down on the public defenders office. It both compliments some offices and then pushes for change and improvements. Talks about a "wholistic" approach to defending people. Uh oh, more work for less pay. Here it comes. It says public defenders should be expanded to handle the civil matters of indigents also. Help them obtain criminal record expungements and to help them on civil matters. (mental illness and substance abuse issues - treatment)

This report is 78 pages and no I have not read every page. It goes on and on and on. Gets probation officer really good too. Gets the Judges and the prosecutors and the public defenders. Private attorneys aren't left out either. It gets us all.

ABA reports recommends that probation officers and prison officials and public defenders and private attorneys are to advise defendants of the processes for obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation, or other evidence of restoration of rights and relief from disabilities.
The ABA Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions has a report issued for the August ABA meeting that requires, in report 300E, that criminal defense lawyers and trial courts be charged with the duty of advising defendants pleading guilty about the collateral consequences of their pleas, including immigration consequences, with the end that all jurisdictions will enable those convicted to earn a certificate of rehabilitation.

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