- Contact appropriate committees (Standing Committee on Protection Orders) and
law enforcement officials for discussion and support
- Inquire about IT solutions for recognition by computer information systemsCriminal Justice Recommendation #6: Evidence-Based Sentencing
Judge Foughty introduced the issue of evidence-based sentencing, indicating that limited
use throughout the state is the main problem.
Leann Bertsch shared a report from the National Institute of Corrections on
implementation and discussed some of the benefits of using evidence-based tools at the
sentencing stage. Benefits include reduction of lockups in cases where is inappropriate,
more efficient use of incarceration, and more efficient targeting of resource delivery to
offenders most likely to respond to them. She said that the court system would need to
cover costs, but that pretrial risk assessment would most likely cut down on probation
revocations and allow more efficient overall use of resources. In addition, pre-plea PSIs
can be used, and costs from additional FTEs would be offset by reductions in lock-up and
recidivism, results which have occurred in other implementing states. Members also
suggested that use of evidence-based tools would give judges an objective measure to
reference in support bond or sentencing decisions.
Members noted that the primary purpose for the recommendation from the Race and Bias
Commission was to provide a greater level of objectivity for decision-making at
sentencing, and, for the purposes of the Committee, savings and efficiency gains are
extra benefits. Several members suggested potential problems, such as the possibility for
an increase of incarcerations with PSIs and the possibility that evaluation factors may
correlate with minority characteristics, reinforcing or increasing disparities. Leann
Bertsch said that the approach for evidence-based sentencing is focused on public safety,
and that the instruments do not replace professional judgment, but are heavily tested to
ensure objectivity and provide a more informed way of making decisions. Running a
pilot program may be an effective beginning for implementation.
Members suggested the creation of a sub-committee to review implementation of the
evidence-based sentencing recommendation and determine any bias issues. Judge
Foughty indicated such a committee could also review pilot programs. Leann Bertsch
said that initial work would have to include establishing a baseline by collecting data on
jails and incarceration patterns, at least from large counties.
Members developed an initial checklist to address the evidence-based sentencing
- Inquire into related activities of the Alternatives to Incarceration Committee
- Collect data from jails, especially large jails throughout the state, to develop baseline data
-Review race as it relates to evidence-based assessments
-Obtain report and tool used for domestic violence assessment
-Look at other states that have implemented tools and assess valid instruments
-Contact Wade Warren, the head Federal Probation Officer, and inquire as to
federal use or perspectives
Members noted that the Race and Bias report showed that there are already
disproportionate numbers of minorities in the system, and that disproportion increases
from arrest to incarceration. Members also emphasized that evidence-based tools
constitute only one component in judicial decision making, a component that provides an
objective picture of risk that would not otherwise be available. Judge Foughty said that
the objective nature of these tools could provide support for judges to overcome implicit
bias. Members directed Staff to send a link to the Implicit Associations Test, which
contains information on implicit bias as well as a self-test.
Linda Isakson emphasized that, though the issue of training was not an agenda item for
this meeting, all of the tools and measures discussed would require substantial staff
training for implementation.
Judge Foughty explained a letter from the Chief Justice on recommendations from the
Minority Justice Implementation Committee. The Chief Justice indicated that some
recommendations could not be accomplished by the judicial branch, and that any
forwarded to other agencies should clearly convey the understanding that they come from
the Committee and have not been approved or disapproved by the Courts.
Recommendations directed to the Judicial Branch are to be forwarded to the Court with
proposals for implementation.
Judge Foughty again directed members to review recommendations and choose those
within their areas of interest that they would like to address.
The meeting concluded at 1 p.m.