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Pub. Type Report
Title Repeat Offender Laws in the United States - Their Form, Use and Perceived Value, Final Report
Author(s) McDonald, W.F.
Athens, L.A.
Minton, T.J.
Subtitle/Series Name
Pub. Date 1986
Abstract Study data came from a review of existing research as well as from structured telephone interviews of 179 prosecutors, 91 defense attorneys, and 89 judges in 96 jurisdictions. The laws have never directly achieved their apparent legislative purpose of ensuring special sentences for repeat offenders. Only a small fraction of eligible habitual offenders have been sentenced as such. However, prosecutors use these laws extensively to obtain convictions through plea negotiations. Prosecutors and judges are generally satisfied with the current operation of the laws. Defense attorneys are not satisfied. All parties recommend changes in the laws, but the recommendations aim mainly to enhance their institutional roles rather than assure that more eligible habitual offenders are sentenced as such. Lack of adequate conceptualization of habitual criminality has hampered policymaking efforts. The analysis of habitual criminality needs to consider four distinct factors: the seriousness of the crimes committed, the total number, the frequency, and the offender's predicted future dangerousness. Future policy choices on this subject should rest on frank recognition of the competing values involved. Figures, data tables, and 145 references. source
Issue/No. NCJ 103055
Producer United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice
Place of Production Washington, DC

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