Sunday, September 19, 2010

Humonetarianism in Sentencing: Missouri Judges Consider Prison Costs

This is a new development with humonetarianism: Judges taking punishment costs into account while sentencing. The New York Times reports:

Months ago, members of the Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission, a group of lawyers, judges and others established by state lawmakers years ago, voted to begin providing judges with cost information on individual cases.

. . .

The concept is simple: fill in an offender’s conviction code, criminal history and other background, and the program spits out a range of recommended sentences, new statistical information about the likelihood that Missouri criminals with similar profiles (and the sentences they received) might commit more crimes, and the various options’ price tags.

I strongly recommend reading the full piece. It is rather astonishing that prosecutors object to providing judges with such data. Why should decision makers not be aware of the fiscal implications of their decisions? And, if there is no software to provide such data, what is there to stop inquisitive judges from finding this information out on their own? Moreover, it is not as if judges do not factor in social costs at present; it would hardly appear unseemly for judges to consider the impact someone's sentence might have on, say, public safety, or public opinion. What makes the public wallet any different?

2 comments:

JesseStout said...

For another surprising & good sentencing development in Missouri recently, see: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/stcharles/article_2e5336b2-f668-570d-93a8-f5f5a182d177.html?mode=story

Ryan said...

This already goes on in Federal courts. Every Presentence Report lists costs of confinement.