State Sentencing Policies and Recidivism Among Drug Offenders Released in 1994

Client: (Research)
Faculty: Tod Mijanovich
Team: Michael Deurlein, Catherine Lee, Chanelle Pearson, Alexander Vaisman
Year: 2011
The New York State Rockefeller Drug Law of 1973 became the model for harsh sen­tencing policies for nearly all states in the country. Although the “war on drugs” and the “war on crime” sought to address vio­lent criminal activity, the changes in policy and the emphasis on mandatory prison sentences have mostly resulted in the mass imprisonment of low­risk, nonviolent drug offenders who are often young Black and Latino men. The drastic increase in the number of people sentenced to prison for drug­related offenses has caused prison over­crowding, ballooning state expenses, and an influx of drug offenders returning to communities. While existing research on recidivism has focused on individual characteristics of offenders, very little is known about the state or neighborhood­level context to which offenders return. For this study the Capstone team examined the impact of state­level policy factors, such as indeterminate and determinate sentencing, on recidivism among drug offenders released in 1994.