New Model Legislation: Incapacitating Serious Criminals and Promoting Data Transparency
NEW YORK, NY — Many American cities have seen violence levels rise significantly over the past decade. In 2020 the nation saw its largest single-year spike in homicides in at least 100 years, followed by another increase in murders in 2021. Though estimates indicate a slight decline in homicides in 2022, violence levels in many American cities remain far higher than a decade ago. Experts will continue to debate the cause of this general deterioration of public safety; however, the fact remains that it was both preceded and accompanied by a virtually unidirectional shift in the policing, prosecutorial, and criminal justice policy spaces—evident by both arrests and jail time declining over the past decade.
In new model legislation for the Manhattan Insitute, Nick Ohnell Fellow Rafael Mangual seeks to advance a positive agenda for public safety by proposing three model policies that, if adopted, can help stem the tide of rising crime. The policies encourage states to maximize the benefits that flow from the incapacitation of serious criminals, especially repeat offenders, and encourage the collection and reporting of data that can help better inform the public about the risks so often glossed over by decarceration and depolicing activists. These model policies include:
- Modified “Three-Strikes”: Creating a point-system that sets a threshold that, when reached, will trigger a mandatory minimum sentencing enhancement with the dual purpose of better deterring those beneath the threshold, and maximizing the incapacitation of those who cross it.
- “Truth-In-Sentencing”: Setting a floor with regard to the portion of a given sentence that a convicted felon must serve prior to becoming eligible for initial release onto community supervision, with the main purpose of maximizing the incapacitation of those who’ve both been convicted of a serious offense and sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
- “Data-Transparency”: Identifying a number of crime-related measures that jurisdictions will be encouraged to collect and report in a standardized manner in order to address the problem of missing data with which researchers can evaluate policing and criminal justice policies.