Changing Fortunes or Changing Attitudes? Sentencing and Corrections Reforms in 2003


Departures from the nearly sacrosanct tough-on-crime corrections policies of previous decades continue as states grapple with ongoing budget shortfalls. Some evidence suggests, however, that a growing acceptance of alternative corrections policies may be more influential in the shifts than generally recognized. This Issue in Brief surveys the most recent changes to sentencing and corrections policies and identifies the range of reforms being implemented. Using case studies of changes in four states, it also explores the role of changing attitudes toward crime and the possibility that the shifts in policy may outlast the budget crises that precipitated them.