SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 1: Tonry, Michael (July 2009). Explanations of American punishment policies: A national history. Punishment & Society, 11(3): 377-394.

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None of the conventional explanations why American penal policies became so severe — rising crime rates, harsh public attitudes and cynical electoral politics — are persuasive. Nor are various `conditions of late modernity' such as the limited capacities of governments, increasing population diversity or increasing insecurity and risk aversion. All these things characterized every developed country in much of the period 1975—2000 and most did not adopt drastically harsher policies. Nor are such amorphous and over-generalized notions as `populist punitiveness', `penal populism' and neo-liberalism of much use. Some things do have explanatory power cross-nationally. Moderate penal policies and low imprisonment rates are associated with low levels of income inequality, high levels of trust and legitimacy, strong welfare states, professionalized as opposed to politicized criminal justice systems and consensual rather than conflictual political cultures. For each of those factors, the United States falls at the wrong end of the distribution. The question is, Why? Four answers stand out: the `paranoid style' in American politics; a Manichean moralism associated with fundamentalist religious views; the obsolescence of the American constitution; and the history of race relations in the USA.


Article 2: Zhang, Yan, Lening Zhang & Michael S. Vaughn (August 2014). Indeterminate and Determinate Sentencing Models: A State-Specific Analysis of Their Effects on Recidivism. Crime & Delinquency, 60(5): 693-715.

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This article compares the effects of indeterminate and determinate sentencing models on recidivism using a measure of parole board discretionary release and mandatory parole release under each sentencing model. Data collected from Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994: United States are used to conduct a state-specific comparison of the two release programs in six mixed-sentencing states. The results indicate that the effects of different sentencing models significantly vary across the six states. Whereas mandatory parole release was more likely to have a deterrent effect on recidivism in Maryland and Virginia, parole board discretionary release was more effective in New York and North Carolina. Release programs in Oregon and Texas showed no significant differences in their effects on recidivism.