How Much Time Should Prisoners Serve?
This is an excellent exploration regarding the impacts of increased length of stay (LOS) on the population of incarcerated individuals and the subsequent recidivism of those offenders. Sections of this article address: drivers of prison, parole, probation, and jail populations; justifications for longer prison terms—general or specific deterrence, and general and selective incapacitation; what the evidence shows; and policy implications. "The science on how much time prisoners should serve from a public safety perspective is very clear. Increasing or decreasing prisoner LOS has no impact on recidivism or crime rates. But it has an extremely dramatic impact on the size of the prison population. Were we to return the LOS that existed in the 1990s and that now exists in many states, the nation’s state prison population would decline by more than 500,000 inmates. It would not impact existing recidivism or crime rates. If we truly want to reduce the nation’s prison populations, we will have to reverse and nullify all of the legislative and agency policies that have served to fuel the historic increases in the nation’s prison population by increasing time served. This means reducing the lengths of imprisonment for all inmates — not just nonviolent offenders" (p. 76).