Model Penal Code: Sentencing Approved

Model Penal Code: Sentencing Approved

ALI members voted at The American Law Institute’s 2017 Annual Meeting to approve the Proposed Final Draft of Model Penal Code: Sentencing.

Launched in 2001, under Reporter Kevin R. Reitz of the University of Minnesota Law School who was joined in 2012 by Associate Reporter Cecelia M. Klingele of the University of Wisconsin, the project reexamines the sentencing provisions of the 1962 Model Penal Code in light of the many changes in sentencing philosophy and practice that have taken place since its original publication.

“Over the last 15 years, the Reporters, aided by their Advisers and Members Consultative Group, have done a prodigious amount of work and deserve our collective gratitude,” said ALI Director Richard L. Revesz. “During this period, the subject matter of this project has also received sustained attention in the public policy arena, which has focused on the outlier status of the United States in terms of the proportion of individuals who are incarcerated and on the significant racial disparities that make this statistic even more troubling. Mass incarceration has emerged as one of the few issues in our divided political discourse in which liberals and conservatives can find common ground.”

The Sentencing project provides guidance on some of the most important issues that courts, corrections systems, and policymakers are facing today, including the general purposes of the sentencing system; rules governing sentence severity—including sentences of incarceration, community supervision, and economic penalties; the elimination of mandatory minimum penalties; mechanisms for combating racial and ethnic disparities in punishment; instruments of prison population control; collateral consequences, including guidelines, notification, and order of relief; victims’ rights in the sentencing process; the sentencing of juvenile offenders in adult courts; the creation of judicial powers to review many collateral consequences of conviction; and many issues having to do with judicial sentencing discretion, sentencing commissions, sentencing guidelines, and appellate sentence review.

In 2009, after Professors Carol S. Steiker of Harvard Law School and Jordan M. Steiker of The University of Texas School of Law produced the “Report to the ALI Concerning Capital Punishment,” the Institute withdrew Section 210.6 of the Model Penal Code “in light of the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment.”

“As a matter of recent history in this country, we’re at quite an important moment, where the conversation and political attitudes towards criminal justice policy and sentencing policy have been shifting dramatically at the state level,” said Professor Reitz. “Despite current uncertainties in the federal government, legislators, policymakers, and lawmakers in state and local criminal justice systems are searching for workable solutions to problems of mass punitiveness that have grown since the 1970s. This moment in history is particularly fortuitous for the Model Penal Code because we are arriving at the point of completion just as this new or changed nationwide debate is occurring. For lawmakers, judges, and corrections leaders, we can provide the tools they will need to create important and lasting sentencing reforms in their jurisdictions.”

About The American Law Institute

The American Law Institute is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law. The ALI drafts, discusses, revises, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Model Codes, and Principles of Law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education.

By participating in the Institute’s work, its distinguished members have the opportunity to influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas, to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, and academics, to give back to a profession to which they are deeply dedicated, and to contribute to the public good.

All approvals by membership at the Annual Meeting are subject to the discussion at the Meeting and usual editorial prerogative.

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