Back to RJ Archive

Responding to the model penal code sentencing revisions: Tips for early adopters and power users.

Marcus, Michael H.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal. 17(1): 67-138.

The next release of the Model Penal Code sentencing revision is quite predictable; although the revision will be undergoing
some years of further development, the primacy of “just deserts” ordered by sentencing guidelines is now apparently
set in stone. … It is less obvious, but increasingly likely, that the Reporter’s steadfast refusal to identify public
safety as a purpose of sentencing is the product of an unspoken concern that linking crime reduction to incapacitation
and deterrence would undermine efforts to reduce incarceration rates. … In most sentencing scenarios, it is more reasonable
to make our best evidence-based efforts at crime reduction and simply to assume that other purposes of sentencing
are not thereby subverted, than to assume that we accomplish anything of value by resting on just punishment – retribution
– alone. … As with the Reporter’s revision, this code does not dictate that an offender’s criminal history contributes
to the offender’s moral culpability, but commissions, legislatures, and sentencing judges, absent law to the contrary,
are free to conclude that it does. … Moreover, having thus far failed to accept accountability for public safety in sentencing,
and having tolerated a sentencing culture that ignores research and data and produces sentences that are irresponsible
in terms of crime reduction, the criminal justice system at present cannot persuasively refute the case for
minimum sentences. (Author’s Abstract)


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now