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91 Notre Dame L. Rev. 537 (2015-2016)
The Promises and Perils of Evidence-Based Corrections

handle is hein.journals/tndl91 and id is 557 raw text is: 











THE PROMISES AND PERILS OF


                EVIDENCE-BASED CORRECTIONS


                                    Cecelia Klingele*


                                       ABSTRACT

     Public beliefs about the best way to respond to crime change over time, and have been doing
so at a rapid pace in recent years. After more than forty years of ever more severe penal policies,
the punitive sentiment that fueled the growth of mass incarceration in the United States appears
to be softening. Across the country, prison growth has slowed and, in some places, has even
reversed. Many new laws and policies have enabled this change. The most prominent of these
implement or reflect what have been called evidence-based practices designed to reduce prison
populations and their associated fiscal and human costs. These practices-which broadly
include the use of actuarial risk assessment tools, the development of deterrence-based sanctioning
programs, and the adoption of new supervision techniques-are based on criminological research
about what works to reduce convicted individuals' odds of committing future crimes.
     Because evidence-based practices focus on reducing crime and recidivism, they are usually
promoted as progressive tools for making the criminal justice system more humane. And while
many have the potential to do just that, evidence-based practices are not inherently benign with
respect to their effect on mass incarceration and the breadth of the penal state. In their reliance
on aggregate data and classification, many such practices have as much in common with the
new penology that enabled mass incarceration as with the neorehabilitationism they are ordina-
rily thought to represent.
     Without denying the contribution that such practices are making to current reform efforts,
this Article seeks to highlight the unintended ways in which evidence-based tools could be used to
expand, rather than reduce, state correctional control over justice-involved individuals. It
explains what evidence-based practices are, why they have gained traction, and how they fit into
existing paradigms for understanding the role of the criminal justice system in the lives of those
subject to its control. Finally, it calls on policymakers and practitioners to implement these prac-
tices in ways that ensure they are used to improve the quality and fairness of the criminal justice

   ©   2016 Cecelia Klingele. Individuals and nonprofit institutions may reproduce and
distribute copies of this Article in any format at or below cost, for educational purposes, so
long as each copy identifies the author, provides a citation to the Notre Dame Law Review,
and includes this provision in the copyright notice.
    * Assistant Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School. Many thanks to
Richard Garnett, Meghan Ryan, Francis Cullen, Keith Findley, Howard Erlanger, Carissa
Hessick, Randy Kozel, Mark McKenna, Kevin Reitz, Ed Rhine, Ron Corbett, Nicole
Garnett, Jordan Woods, Daniel McConkie, Jason Krieg, Roger Alford, and Stephen Smith,
for their comments on various iterations of this paper. Thanks also to University of
Wisconsin Law School students Zachary Carlson, Tip McGuire, and Matthew Hefti for their
able editorial assistance.

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