1997 Judicial Conference Resolution #1 was proposed by the 1996-97 Sentencing Policy Committee and adopted by the membership of the Conference in April, 1997. Its operative language is quoted above. This newsletter is designed to keep my colleagues apprised of developments related to our ability to get information about "what works" into our courtrooms to the end that we can do the best job of making sentence decisions further public safety.
This newsletter is not supported by public money.
I invite your input in any form. Let me know if you object to including
it in a future issue. Use this link to send e-mail: SMMarcus@CompuServe.com
Michael H. Marcus, Judge
The other part of 1997 Conference Resolution #1 called for a new Sentencing Policy Committee to "report to the 1998 Judicial Conference after solicitation and consideration of input from members of the Conference: "Is it appropriate for the Judicial Conference to express a position on whether or how Oregon law affecting criminal sentences or sentencing policy should be modified? If it is appropriate, should the Conference take such a position, and if so, what position should the Conference take?"
The 1997-98 Sentencing Policy Committee consists of Judges Alan Bonebrake, L. Loyd O'Neal, Rick Haselton, and Michael Marcus (chair); Marion County District Attorney Dale Penn, George Riemer of the Oregon State Bar, Mark Gardner (Special Counsel to the Attorney General), and attorney Michael Phillips. We have had one phone meeting (word of our appointment didn't reach me until mid-December), and are working hard to refine a method to solicit your input on these questions in time to prepare a responsible report to the April Judicial Conference.
Please watch your mail for the Committee's request for input, and please respond promptly so we can meet our deadline.
I also understand that the Criminal Justice
Commission will soon be soliciting the views of all judges on the Sentencing
HB 2229 was the outgrowth of a discussion among Multnomah County judges almost two years ago. We voiced frustration at the growing restrictions on judicial discretion in such provisions as Ballot Measure 11, and at the legislature's low level of interest in what wisdom judges sought to share with law makers.
I suggested that broad support could be found for measuring the impact of sentences on future criminal behavior. With informal blessing of the judges present, I carried the effort to the 1997 Sentencing Guidelines Task Force. HB 2229 was introduced at the request of the Joint Interim Judiciary Committee and, with minor modifications (to avoid a Ways and Means referral), became 1997 Or Laws Ch. 443 (signed 6/27/97).
The full text of the bill is on the web
site below, if you don't have ready access to 1997 session laws. Its major
thrust is to make data available to us (and other criminal justice personnel,
such as juvenile and adult probation officers, lawyers, and correction
counselors) to improve dramatically our access to data indicating what
works on which offenders. The bill addresses this objective by making measuring
effectiveness a central objective of criminal justice information systems,
by combining juvenile and adult criminal justice data systems for this
purpose, and by declaring that reducing recidivism must be an objective
of the "reformation plan" required of the Youth Authority, and a performance
measure of county correctional plans contemplated by 1995 SB 1145. Specifically,
This executive order, signed by the Governor Sept. 29, 1997, establishes a working group which is exploring two means of assisting this effort at getting information about what works to those who need it: a "research institute" and "decision support" software and hardware, so that judges, attorneys, probation officers, and others in the criminal justice process can have ready access to a graphic display of which programs and sanctions, in and out of custody, are most likely to reduce criminal behavior by offenders like the one before us. Members of the DSS committee include Steve Liday (Or. Community Corrections Directors Assn), Barbara Cimaglio (Director, Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs), Cliff Wamacks (Lincoln Co. Local Public Safety Coordinating Council), Chief Robert Tardiff (Or. Assn of Chiefs of Police), Steve Doell (Crime Victims United), Glenn Riley (Asst. Director, DOC), Suzanne Porter (Office of Economic Analysis), Phil Lemman (Criminal Justice Cmmn), Karen Brazeau (Deputy Director, OYA), Lt. John Tawney (Or State Police, Chair), and Michael Marcus (appointed by the Chief Justice). Information system personnel from OADAP and JJIS, and a representative from Higher Education will be added.
We are currently crafting a work plan for making this technology available to us as soon as possible. We expect to have assistance from the Bureau of Justice Statistics SEARCH project, as our efforts seem to concur with a national awakening to the need for effectiveness measurement applied to sentencing decisions.
A suggestion of how decision support software
might work in the sentencing context is provided on the web site identified
at the bottom of page 1 of this newsletter.
This local committee is working along lines almost exactly parallel to the Governor's working group just mentioned. In some sense, it is further advanced, however, as we've hired a program manager with experience in building data warehouses from the ground up to provide the DSS product we need to make this vision a reality.
The Evaluation Committee is part of the Bond Technology project of the LPSCC, and the DSS effort has been described by some as the "flagship" among a substantial number of projects related to criminal justice. Our manager expects to have a model sufficient to demonstrate the ability to draw data from a variety of criminal justice sources and display it with the sort of query tools that DSS requires. Next steps include expanding it enough to exploit existing data in the criminal justice system sufficiently to demonstrate the potential of DSS in our context.
State and local projects must proceed in parallel because the data needed exists on both state and local levels, and because the area is too new and too important to risk that either side will drop the ball.
We hope and expect to see real progress on all fronts before the next legislative session. Stay tuned.
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