Sentencing and Corrections

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JMI’s work in the area of sentencing and corrections is designed to ensure that sentences are fair and proportionate as well as appropriate for achieving the most beneficial results for public safety while reducing the over-reliance on jails and prisons.  Consistent with decades of research on changing offender behavior, JMI’s work promotes the use of community corrections and community-based alternatives to incarceration, when appropriate.

Emerging Topics and Trends

Risk and Needs Assessments. The use of dynamic risk and needs assessment instruments to inform sentencing decisions and to establish the most appropriate sanctions to reduce the likelihood of recidivism has been dominating the field of sentencing over the past several years.  Knowing what the sentencing goal is, and more importantly, what the research demonstrates to be the most appropriate approach for achieving that goal is the foundation of JMI’s Smarter Sentencing work.

Evidence-based practices—those that have been subjected to the most rigorous research and have been replicated with consistent results—are a main focus in the area of community corrections.  Applying the research in both the establishment of supervision levels and conditions of probation as well as in the response to violations of probation continues to help jurisdictions make more effective use of limited resources without comprising public safety.

Collateral Consequences. Increasingly, the research community is producing new results that identify the long-term collateral consequences of convictions that not only punish the offender long after he or she has left the justice system but also can significantly impact their ability to overcome the factors that put individuals at risk for committing more crime.

Project Highlights

The Smarter Sentencing to Reduce Recidivism Training Initiative

The Smarter Sentencing to Reduce Recidivism Training Initiative is designed for judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, and community corrections personnel to learn about the research supporting different sentencing goals and apply state-of-the-art research in the decision making process. Read more . . .

Evaluation of the King County Graduated Sanctions Program

JMI, along with the American Probation and Parole Association, conducted a process evaluation of a graduated sanctions and incentives pilot program in King County, Washington.  The importance of ensuring fidelity to the model and applying sanctions and incentives consistently were among the major findings of the study.

Smarter Sentencing Practitioner Perspective Videos

This set of videos produced by JMI provides the case for evidence-based practice and “smarter sentencing” directly from the practitioners who are working in criminal justice systems every day.

Implementing Smarter Sentencing: Tips and Advice from the Frontlines

JMI hosted a webinar discussion with Tiana Glenna, Coordinator, Criminal Justice Collaborating Council, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, and Rise Haneberg, Criminal Justice Coordinator, Johnson County, Kansas about the work in their criminal justice systems to implement research-based smarter sentencing principles. Read more . . . 

Smarter Sentencing Instructional Video Series

In addition to providing live seminars and on-site technical assistance on “smarter sentencing” and applying the research to pretrial and correctional settings, JMI has also put together a series of videos for individual use and as resources for leaders and practitioners to use as part of their own training efforts.


Evidence-Based Decision Making

National Institute of Corrections Library

American Probation and Parole Association

American Bar Association Collateral Consequences

Franklin CruzSentencing and Corrections