UMN Law School


Reversing Mass Punishment in America: Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 2017 Annual Conference

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While the United States is the undisputed leader of incarceration rates worldwide, little attention has been paid to other forms of punishment in which America has become a leader including community supervision, revocations from supervision to prison, economic penalties, and collateral consequences of conviction. As an example, the Robina Institute’s comparative research of probation rates between American states and European countries finds that, on average, U.S. probation rates are as much as five times higher than that of Europe. Thus, the issue in America is one of mass punishment, not just mass incarceration.

Since 2011, the Robina Institute has conducted original research in sentencing law and policy that examines this trend toward mass punishment. Our work has focused on studying probation and parole practices and revocations across the United States— in both rural and urban communities; researching and publishing information about the impacts of criminal history enhancements; and providing a unique, online resource that gives an in-depth look at state and federal sentencing guidelines systems. The conference examined some of the issues that contribute to mass punishment and discuss ways in which we can reverse this alarming trend and also reduce racial disproportionality.

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