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Are limiting enactments effective? an experimental test of decision making in a presumptive parole state

Authors
Journal
Journal of Criminal Justice
0047-2352
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
27
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0047-2352(99)00004-5
Disciplines
  • Design

Abstract

Abstract The 1979 New Jersey Parole Act attempted to limit parole discretion through the policy of presumptive parole, mandating release upon first eligibility unless the paroling authority found preponderant evidence of future recidivism. The goal of this study was to determine if decision making complied with the 1979 law, and whether factors such as plea bargaining, aggravation, or type of crime affected these decisions. An experimental design of simulated parole cases was utilized. Four types of cases were randomly assigned to ten parole hearing officers: celltype 1 cases included neither plea nor aggravating factors; celltype 2 included plea bargaining, but no aggravating factors; celltype 3 included both plea bargaining and aggravating factors; while celltype 4 cases included aggravating factors but no plea bargaining. Comparisons across celltypes were made using chi-square and logit techniques. Results indicate that decision behavior has not been modified or “restricted” despite the changed parole law. Type of crime was the most influential factor, with aggravation being significant among the celltype traits. The presence or absence of plea bargaining had no effect. The implications for limiting enactments are discussed.

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