Thursday, December 21, 2006
From abanet.org: The American Bar Association Commission has submitted for consideration by the ABA House six reports with recommendations. The reports deal with alternatives to incarceration and conviction; improvements in parole and probation supervision; employment and licensure of convicted persons; access to and use of criminal records for non-law enforcement purposes; representation relating to collateral consequences; and training in the exercise of discretion.
These six reports were originally submitted to the House last summer, but were withdrawn for further consideration and discussion with the National District Attorneys Association. As a result of the Commission's discussions with NDAA a number of revisions were made to the recommendations, and the NDAA agreed to co-sponsor four of the six sets of recommendations. The Criminal Justice Section and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association also renewed their co-sponsorship of the recommendations.
Among other things, the NDAA and the ABA agreed on recommending:
- Community based alternatives to incarceration that also avoid a conviction record, including diversion and deferred adjudication, should be available to all but the most serious offenders;
- People under community supervision should only be returned to prison for serious violations of their conditions of release, such as where a new crime has been committed or lesser sanctions have failed;
- Public access to criminal records should in general be limited, in light of the government's interest in encouraging successful offender reentry and reintegration, people should be able to challenge the accuracy of their records, and only law enforcement agencies should have access to records of closed criminal cases that did not result in a conviction;
- All criminal justice professionals -- including judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, probation and parole officers, and correctional officials -- should be trained in understanding, adopting and utilizing factors that promote the sound exercise of their discretion.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]