Pennsylvania has regularly approved incremental changes to sentencing guidelines and correctional statutes, but these often are inadequate when fundamental change is required. In 2014, the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing began a comprehensive review of the sentencing guidelines, recognizing the need for structural changes to streamline, simplify, and automate the guidelines, and the need for policy changes to promote certainty and consistency and to improve outcomes. At the same time, the Commission was constructing a new sentence risk assessment instrument and developing new guidelines for resentencing, parole, and recommitment. While all these guidelines are advisory in nature, this change process reflected aspects of an indeterminate structured sentencing (ISS) module, in which a single commission promulgates two sets of coordinated guidelines that constrain both sentencing and release powers. Transformational change requires broad engagement with key change leaders and practitioners, the use of research and analysis to understand current practices and consider best practices, and continued refinement of proposals to gain consensus. This paper describes the change management process employed by the Commission, and the fundament changes proposed through this process, to transform decision-making in Pennsylvania’s indeterminate sentencing system.

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