Research capacity is the basic currency of a sentencing commission, and the gold standard is data, with its capability of being transformed into meaningful information to support policy development and guide sentencing decisions. This paper investigates the science of best practices in Pennsylvania and the roles of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing in collecting, preparing, and disseminating sentencing and resentencing data; in collaborating with other agencies to integrate justice-related data; and in establishing partnerships to expand the research capacity of the Commission to use these data. The application of evidence-based practices—of harnessing the power of data to develop policy and support decision making—will be demonstrated through a discussion of four Commission projects: construction and validation of a sentence risk assessment instrument; comprehensive review of the use of criminal history in the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines; establishment of state parole guidelines; and design of a modular population projection simulation model.
Harnessing the Power of Data: The Role of Sentencing Commissions in the Information Age
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Mark H. Bergstrom, Brett A. Miller, Jordan T. Zvonkovich; Harnessing the Power of Data: The Role of Sentencing Commissions in the Information Age. Federal Sentencing Reporter 1 April 2021; 33 (4): 229–236. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fsr.2021.33.4.229
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