Date of Graduation

Summer 2011

Degree

Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Department

Criminology and Criminal Justice

Committee Chair

Karl Kunkel

Keywords

sentencing, pre-sentencing report, sentencing assessment report, Missouri sentencing, courtroom workgroup sentencing assessment

Subject Categories

Criminology and Criminal Justice

Abstract

In 2003, the Missouri legislature charged the Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission (MOSAC) to create a reformed sentencing structure reducing sentence disparity and correctional costs. MOSAC made significant revisions to the Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) report and created the Sentencing Assessment Report (SAR). The SAR contains a more detailed description of offender characteristics. It also attempts to distinguish offenders needing incarceration from those likely to succeed in the community, thereby creating a bias toward community corrections. In 2005, the SAR was implemented and demonstrated initial success. However, in 2009 prison admissions began to increase coinciding with a decline in the percent of felony criminal cases requesting a SAR. To determine why this decline in SAR use and influence occurred, it is important to survey members of Missouri's courtroom workgroup. This thesis involves a Web-based survey of Missouri criminal trial judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys seeking to determine their opinions and views of the SAR. Data show trial judges support all sections in the SAR, while prosecutors and defense attorneys are less supportive overall. The reasons for less support among prosecutors and defense attorneys differ between these groups and reflect the goals of each position in the American adversarial criminal trial process. Policy implications of this research argue despite state-level budget crises, it is unlikely a progressive sentencing policy can succeed given the highly political and adversarial nature of the American trial and sentencing process.

Copyright

© Julianna Cameron

Campus Only

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