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State Prison Commission Finds Longer Sentences Don't Reduce Crime


January 1993

Dr. Darrell Steffensmeier study, (Incarceration and Crime: Facing Fiscal Realities in Pennsylvania, 9/92), commissioned by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing found that longer prison sentences have done nothing to lower the crime rate ("Sentencing Commission Study Reveals That Longer Prison Sentences Do Not Lower Crime Rate," The Pennsylvania Prison Society, Correctional Forum, Fall 1992).

The study stemmed from concern over the fiscal crisis spawned by growth in the number of inmates, consuming a growing share of tax dollars at a time of declining state revenues. The growth in prison population is related to tougher sentencing guidelines and the passage of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, according to the study. Property and drug offenders make up a disproportionate share of the state's inmates, and such offenders could be punished more cost-effectively through use of intermediate sanctions, rather than imprisonment, the study concluded.

To obtain a copy of Dr. Steffensmeier's study, call or write Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission, P.O. Box 1200, College, Pennsylvania 16804, telephone 814-863-2797.

To obtain copies of the Correctional Forum, contact The Pennsylvania Prison Society, 3 North Second Street, Philadelphia, Pa., 19106, 215-351-2300.