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Pub. Type:
Report
Title:
Repeat Offender Laws in the United States - Their Form, Use and Perceived Value, Executive Summary
Subtitle/Series Name:
Abstract:
It focuses only on RO laws which provide an enhanced penalty for the second conviction of any felony following a first felony or misdemeanor conviction. The survey included all such RO laws in effect on December 31, 1982, in all U.S. jurisdictions: 47 States, the District of Columbia, and the Federal system. Within each State having an RO law, 2 local jurisdictions were randomly chosen, 1 from localities with 1980 populations between 50,000 and 250,000 and 1 from larger localities. Within these jurisdictions, 179 prosecutors, 91 defense attorneys, and 89 judges were interviewed by phone between May 15, 1984, and October 30, 1984, to determine how the RO laws are operating. A small fraction of habitual offenders have been sentenced under RO laws in most jurisdictions. The laws are primarily used by prosecutors to obtain convictions through plea negotiations. Prosecutors and judges are generally satisfied with the current operation of these laws, but defense attorneys are not. RO laws have failed as sentencing instruments primarily because the target population has been inadequately defined, and practitioners perceive that prior criminality is already being addressed under the normal sentencing structure. If a legislature wants to increase punishment uniformity, minimize sentencing discretion, and ensure that prior criminality is given special weight, then some variation of determinant sentencing is more appropriate than RO laws supplementing existing indeterminate sentencing. Tabular data and 8 references. source
Issue/No.:
NCJ 103054
Producer:
United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice
Place of Production:
Washington, DC

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