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commission approach to soften these disparate sentences, at the same time we could provide, through that mechanism, for the judges to impose sentences whereby, after a period of incarceration, say, if that were the correct thing, a prisoner could finish his term with 6 months in a halfway house or 6 months under supervised probation, so to speak, more or less the way the Parole Board does it now. Therefore, you could dispense with the Parole Board mechanism.
Senator PASTORE. The report in the newspapers was awfully misleading.
Judge Tyler. No, it wasn't, and I have made several speechesSenator Hruska was exposed to me recently, as a captive. He had to listen to this out in Omaha. But the proposal was, basically, some kind of device to smooth off these irrational disparities, particularly when you are dealing with the same kind of crime and relatively the same type of offender-same age, same general background.
REVISION OF THE FEDERAL CRIMINAL CODE
Senator HRUSKA. I might say I was a captive and willing listener. In the formation of S.1, the revision of the Federal Criminal Code, great pains were taken to try to restructure the sentences for crime so that when one robbed a bank he gets 10 years. If it is a post office it is 20 years. It is Federal money in both cases and there is not too much difference there, after all.
But we spent a great deal of time in grading the sentences and then seeing to it that there be a uniform national application to it so that somebody from Georgia wouldn't get something in one sentence and another one from Pennsylvania and they would meet at a prison halfway between those States and then there would be the situation you described.
So it is a sensitive subject and not all of it is written in the law. Some of it is in the judge's hammer when he says 3 years or 1 year or parole.
We felt that by reducing the sentence, but making it more certain and more speedy and less flexible, we would encourage the imposition of sentences that would be fair and that would be uniform.
So the approach that you tried to explain to us, Judge, has some merit.
Judge TYLER. Sir Robert Mark, the head of Scotland Yard, was over here recently. I don't know if you noticed. He was making this point. He thinks that, when the Senate is able to get to a new criminal code, it is very important to try to make sentences less harsh, more specific-or definite, as some of the experts now say.
He made the point that he thought that sentences could be a great deal shorter, particularly if you could speed up the process, as you were saying. And the certainty of being found out and processed would probably prove more of a deterrent than having extremely high sentences, and so on. I think he had a point.
Senator PASTORE. Why don't we hear from some of the public witnesses at this time. Do you have anything else to say?
Mr. CARLSON. I was going to comment on the four institutions we have requested.
Senator PASTORE. Why don't you wait for a little rebuttal and see what happens?
Mr. CARLSON. I would be happy to.
Senator PASTORE. Let's hear from Reverend Stinson first. STATEMENT OF REV. WESLEY STINSON, RHODE ISLAND STATE
COUNCIL OF CHURCHES Senator PASTORE. Reverend, we are very happy to have you. You may take your time and present it the way you wish.
Reverend STINSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to say, first of all, that I am not here representing any official body but presenting my own views. However, at the same time, I have been encouraged to come here by several people who do represent official bodies, including the Executive Secretary of the State Council of Churches, the speaker of community affairs for the Community Affairs Commission for the Catholic Diocese in Providence and representatives of the American Foreign Service Committee.
It is an honor to be able to be here and present my views and also to compliment you, Senator Pastore, on the position you have taken in the past on this particular subject.
I am here to urge the members of the committee to delete appropriations for the construction of any new Federal prisons.
For many years, I have been concerned about problems of criminal justice and the correctional system as it exists in our nation. For the past year and a half, I have been employed by the Rhode Island Bail Fund, a private nonprofit corporation, to provide bail for indigents and to assist them in ways which will keep them from returning to prison. I am also working closely with sentenced inmates and parolees.
While I am convinced that some persons need to be separated from society, I am convinced that in most cases, the incarceration of persons in prisons is a poor choice of alternatives. I have become convinced that the expenditure of millions of dollars in this endeavor is both a waste of dollars and more important, a tragic waste of human lives. We also know that if we build more prisons, we will fill them.
While I admit the need to protect society from some individuals, this number represents a small minority of the present prison population. My premise is that imprisonment is not effective in turning criminals away from crime, but it is counterproductive as it often destroys many of the redeeming aspects of a person's association in his community. Can this premise be substantiated with facts? I believe it can.
EFFECT OF “GIDEON” DECISION IN FLORIDA The official National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals reported an interesting observation. In 1963, the Gideon decision of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the Constitution, every defendant in a criminal trial had a right to legal counsel. As a result of that decision, over 1,000 inmates in the Florida
prison system were ordered released. Alarmed citizens warned that a terrible crime wave would result. Careful research was done to discover the actual effect. Two groups of inmates with similar records released at the same time were matched.
The only significant difference was that all in one group had been abruptly released as a result of the Gideon decision. All in the other group were released because they had completed serving their sentence or a normal minimum portion of those sentences. Over a period of 242 years, 13.6 percent of the Gideon group were convicted of new crimes. Of the other group, 25.4 percent or nearly twice as many had new convictions.
The National Advisory Commission reports, “There is substantial evidence that probation, fines, public service requirements and restitution are less costly than incarceration and consistently produce lower rates of recidivism after completion of sentence.” Even Norman Carlson, Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, has made the flat statement that prisons are a failure.
If there is any consistent opinion among professional penologists who are working in the prison system it is the feeling that of all the persons in their custody, the vast majority should not be there.
It is my opinion and recommendation that rather than appropriating vast amounts of money for prison construction, that more funding should be made available to expand probation and parole programs, small community halfway house programs and other forms of assistance which will help the offender avoid becoming an offender again. It seems to me that this will better protect the community than it would be to build more prisons which tend to stimulate crime.
It may seem that you are dealing with the construction of buildings. In reality, you are faced with a decision on this appropriation which will affect the lives of thousands of men and women. There are far more effective ways of dealing with this issue. The most pressing problem is not construction of a new Federal prison nor is it an adequate answer to the needs of our nation and its communities. Prisons not only fail to accomplish their positive purpose but they are positively evil.
I urge you in the strongest possible terms to not only defeat the appropriation request before you today, but to avoid the construction of any new Federal prisons now or in the future.
Let me again express my thanks to you for allowing me to speak before you in this regard.
PRISON SYSTEM HAS FEW OPTIONS
Senator PASTORE. Reverend Stinson, I have agonized over this. I have searched my soul and I must say there is a sense of nobility in the position that you take. But being a little pragmatic about this, here comes Mr. Carlson, who does not send anybody to jail. He only has to take care of them when they are sent to jail. From a population of 23,000 last year, he has it up now to 26,000, not because he sentenced these people.
The judges did that. I am wondering, aren't we barking up the wrong tree? I mean, here is a man who comes here and says, “I have no room and the judges keep sending these people to me and
I have 3,000 more to take care of this year than I had last year. Now I have either got to put two in one bed or you have got to give me another bed.
Isn't the fault here with the judges who are sending these people to jail, when maybe they shouldn't go to jail? Isn't the fault with the system that they are not giving these people either a release on personal recognizance and/or a moderate bail, depending upon the ability of that person to produce a certain bail in order to make his appearance before the court?
I have been listening to this testimony time and time again.
Then we have a situation that we have a crowded jail in Alabama. We have all our crowded Federal jails. I am wondering what is really the answer here. Yes, we have been saying right along-and I have gone along with you people-you have been saying right along, “If you don't build them, maybe somebody will come to his senses and do something about it.”
Up to this time, nobody has come to their senses and the fact still remains that we have 3,000 more this year than last year. Where the devil do we put them? What do I say to Mr. Carlson? Today or tomorrow, if there is a riot in one of these jails because there are too many people crowded in one cell, what do I say to him when he comes to me and says, “It is your fault. I needed more room and you didn't give it to me.
I said, "Well, maybe the judge shouldn't have sent the fellow out." He said, “That wasn't my job. My responsibility is to take care of them once he sends them to me.
What do I do with that? That has been troubling me for a long time and I have gone along with you people. I am wondering if I am not at the end of my rope. That is bothering me to no end.
I quite agree with you, we have got to begin to look at this with eyes of 1976 and not with primitive procedures that we had at the turn of the century. We have got to treat these prisoners with more humaneness if we expect them to be quiet, to be organized and to be disciplined and to rehabilitate once they get out.
But in the meantime, what do I do? What do I say to Mr. Carlson, generally? Go fly a kite? Crowd up your jails? Put two people in a cell? What do I tell him? You people have me stumped. Would you like to comment on that?
NEED FOR JUDICIAL REFORM Reverend STINSON. I agree with you, Senator, that this is an extremely difficult area to deal with. It is going to continue to be difficult until our whole criminal justice system is completely overhauled. We are finding situations, for example, in the adult correctional institute in Rhode Island where an inmate is there having served the actual amount of his sentence but he has appealed the sentence and therefore is still kept there because he cannot raise bail even beyond the length of time that his sentence would originally be.
Senator PASTORE. Is that the fault of the warden?
Senator PASTORE. I mean that is the thing that is bothering me here. That is the reason why I say aren't we barking up the wrong tree. I don't know. What is the answer? I am dealing with Mr. Carlson on construction of a prison. I am not in any active or panel discussion on reformation of our judicial system.
I quite agree with you, it has to come. But that is not the responsibility of this committee at this particular time. I am searching for the answer.
Reverend STINSON. I think this is one of the first-
Senator PASTORE. If I knew that I could punish Mr. Carlson to bring about the reform that you want, I would do it. But the poor fellow is prostrated from the punishment that he has taken. He has a problem and he comes to us and he wants us to help him solve it.
You see, in your attempt to be humane, we are creating an environment that is inhumane. I don't know what the answer is. I wish I knew the answer.
Senator Hruska, you go ahead and take it from there and give me the answer.
EFFORTS TO RESTRUCTURE THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM Senator HruskA. Yes. I won't give you an answer, but I will pose another question.
What has been done by people who advocate the abolition of any further funds for building prisons? What effort has been put forth to restructure the system that we have now? And what results have they received?
Let me tell you of a very fruitful field. If it thought that prisons are not necessary and they should not be resorted to, we have right here in the District of Columbia one of the most fruitful sources for effort that ever existed. Because we have a system here that abolishes prisons for virtually thousands of prisoners every year.
The basis for it is found in the bail law that we have here. So that if a man is found robbing a filling station and he has a gun in his hand, the robbery is illegal, the possession of the gun is illegal, both of them are felonies and he should go to jail. He appeared before the judge and the judge asked him where he lives and how long he has lived there, and so on, and he will say, “I was born here. I have been here all the time.” The judge will say, “Have you any relatives away from the District of Columbia?” He will say, “No, there is no danger of flight from here."
So he is freed. Under the law, as it has been applied, he must be freed. Repeatedly we find people of that kind whose trial is set in 6 weeks or 8 weeks or 10 weeks and they go off the very next night to rob another filling station so they can get enough money to pay for the lawyer or whatever he had to represent him, if he didn't get one free.
And if he got one free, he still wants to rob somebody else to get money for either his drug habit or whatever.
Some of those people accused of crime have done that as many as 8 or 10 or 11 times. Now, there the prison system for them is abolished.