NASC 2016 Annual Conference

Examining the Interactions between Policy and Sentencing

Hosted by the Utah Sentencing Commission

August 7-9, 2016

Little America Hotel

Salt Lake City, Utah

Final as of August 1, 2016

Sunday, August 7, 2016 –  SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah                                

3:30 p.m.         Collaborative Approaches to Reversing the School-to-Prison Pipeline

A panel representing various aspects of the education and juvenile justice systems will engage in a frank dialogue about what has been termed the “school to prison pipeline,” with a focus on proposing collaborative solutions.

Jo Ellen Cline, Ohio Sentencing Commission

David Dominquez, Law Professor, Brigham Young University

Leah Farrell, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Utah

Alan Hall, Chairman, Prosperity 2020

Nubia Pena, Recent Graduate, University of Utah

Pam Vickrey (moderator), Utah Sentencing Commission 

5:00 p.m.        NASC 2016 Conference Reception


Monday, August 8, 2016 –  Little America Hotel                                                        

7:30 a.m.        Breakfast & Registration


8:45 a.m.        Welcome & Introductions

Utah Governor Gary Herbert

Utah Chief Justice Matthew Durrant


9:00 a.m.        Plenary Session 1: Evidence-Based Short-Term Interventions for Lower Level Offenses

Lengthy periods of treatment or community supervision are disproportionate to the potential incarceration time for lower level offenses.  Roughly half the total number of offenders nationwide commit lower level offenses (misdemeanors, drug and property felonies) and a significant percentage are high risk to reoffend. This panel will explore sentencing alternatives to incarceration (community service, circles of peace, diversion, plea in abeyance, etc.) which are both evidence-based and short term.

Hon. John Baxter, Utah District Court Judge

Dr. Rob Butters, Director, Utah Criminal Justice Center

Hon. Alex Calabrese, Presiding Judge, Red Hook Community Justice Center

Teresa Welch (moderator), Salt Lake Early Case Resolution Court

10:15 a.m.        Morning Break


10:30 a.m.        Plenary Session 2:  Public Attitudes Toward Criminal History Enhancements: What Do the People Think?

All U.S. and foreign guidelines impose sentence enhancements to reflect an offender’s prior convictions.  This is done to discourage re-offending and to reflect the higher culpability of repeat offenders.  This seminar will explore the degree of “fit” between the practice of the guidelines and public opinion. The presentation draws upon a systematic review of public opinion research conducted in several states as well as a national survey conducted by the Robina Institute in 2016.

Julian Roberts, Professor, Oxford

Rhys Hester, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Robina Inst. of Crim.l Law & Crim. Justice


11:30 a.m.         All-Members Update

This session will summarize and review the major policy issues facing NASC member jurisdictions and sentencing commissions.  Results from a recent member survey will be presented, and we will hear directly from each attending jurisdiction.  

Kelly Mitchell, NASC President


12:15 p.m.        Lunch


Rick Kern Memorial Keynote Speaker

Steven L. Chanenson, Professor, Villanova University School of Law

1:30 p.m.        Breakout Sessions:

How do sentencing commissions stay relevant? 

What is the secret to longevity in the world of sentencing commissions?  The first sentencing commissions were established in 1978 (Minnesota, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania).  Since then, additional commissions have been established.  Some commissions went out of existence, suddenly or slowly; others have been reconfigured, reinvented or resuscitated. This session will pose questions to a panel of ‘older’ commissions who have survived the tests of time. 


Nathaniel J. Reitz, Executive Director, Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission

Anne Dannerbeck Janku, Ph.D., Research Manager, Court Business Services, Missouri Office of State Courts Administrator

Linda Freeman, Executive Director, New Mexico Sentencing Commission

Mark H. Bergstrom, Executive Director, PA Commission on Sentencing

Diane Shoop (moderator), PA Commission on Sentencing

The Role of Guidelines in Delivering Procedural Justice

This panel will discuss the concept of procedural justice generally and then dialog whether the use of guidelines assist or hinder the actual delivery of procedural justice.  In particular, this panel will dialogue the question of whether the existence of guidelines create uniformity, consistency, and basic expectations for sentencing; or whether guidelines are formulaic, rigid, and encourage less individualized sentencing?  Various jurisdictions’ guidelines and their practical impact in court proceedings will be discussed from different perspectives within the criminal justice system.  In addition, the degree of flexibility or individualization which exists within each jurisdiction post-Blakely & Booker will be discussed.    

Paul G. Cassell, Professor, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah

Hon. Michael DiReda, Utah District Court Judge

Richard Frase, Professor, University of Minnesota Law School

Rich Mauro, Utah Sentencing Commission

Jacey Skinner (moderator), General Counsel, Utah Governor

2:45 p.m.        Afternoon Break


3:00 p.m.        Breakout Sessions:

Lessons Learned from Large-Scale Reform -- Workshop Discussion

Many states have recently undertaken large-scale criminal justice reform efforts that have changed sentencing, community supervision, and release decision making policies.  These initiatives are generally credited with making significant positive strides improving their respective criminal justice systems and outcomes.  But with large-scale reform (and large pieces of legislation) also sometimes comes unintended consequences, and in some instances results that run contrary to the intent of the reform.  This session will explore select states’ experiences with implementing reform on a broad scale and lessons learned that can be shared with other states from unforeseen results and how the states responded to those changes. 

Mark Bergstrom, Executive Director, PA Commission on Sentencing

Scott Schultz,Executive Director, Kansas Sentencing Commission

Bennet Wright (moderator), Executive Director, Alabama Sentencing Commission


Policy Evaluations of Recent Sentencing Reforms

Over the past decade, nearly two dozen states have enacted sentencing reforms as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a national effort to decrease prison and community supervision populations and invest savings into programs that can reduce recidivism and improve public safety. The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Urban Institute have measured the impact of several of these laws through detailed policy evaluations. This session highlights key findings of recent Pew and Urban Institute evaluations of sentencing policy changes in Missouri, South Carolina, and South Dakota.

John Gramlich, Research Officer, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Jake Horowitz, Policy Director, The Pew Charitable Trusts

        Bryce Peterson, Research Associate, Urban Institute


Tuesday, August 9, 2016 – Little America Hotel                                                        

8:00 a.m.         Breakfast & Registration


9:00 a.m.        Plenary Session 3:  Recidivism among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview

This presentation provides a broad overview of key findings from the United States Sentencing Commission’s study of recidivism of federal offenders based on a report released in March 2016. The Commission studied offenders who were either released from federal prison after serving a sentence of imprisonment or placed on a term of probation in 2005. Nearly half (49.3%) of such offenders were rearrested within eight years for either a new crime or for some other violation of the condition of their probation or release conditions. The presentation will discuss the Commission’s recidivism research project and provide many additional findings from that project.

Kim Hunt, U.S. Sentencing Commission


10:15 a.m.        Break

10:30 a.m.        Breakout Sessions:

Basing Pre-Trial Release Decisions on More than Gut Instinct Alone

Multiple states and the federal government have implemented pre-trial release tools based upon the results of validated risk and/or needs information.   This session will present research on the effectiveness of release decisions which are based on gut instinct alone in comparison to release decisions which incorporate risk and/or needs assessment information.  Various approaches which are being used nationwide will be discussed, as well how to practically implement the use of such tools.

Susanne DiPietro, Executive Director, Alaska Judicial Council

Michael Jones, Director of Implementation, Pretrial Justice Institute

Ken Rose, Criminal Justice Program Coordinator, VA Dept. of Crim. Just. Serv’s

Darin Carver (moderator), Clinical Practice Administrator, Weber Human Services, Ogden, UT

Sentencing Guidelines and Probation – Workshop Discussion

Probation is one of the most highly utilized sentencing options, yet the interaction between probation and sentencing guidelines varies greatly in guidelines jurisdictions.  In some systems, aspects like the length of probation and potential conditions are built into the guidelines, but in others, the guidelines indicate a recommended in/out decision but provide no further guidance with regard to probation.  In some systems, the guidelines govern sentencing or resentencing when probation is revoked; in others, the guidelines apply only to the initial decision to impose probation or not.  This workshop will give attendees an opportunity to learn from each other and discuss these varying approaches.

Ross Caldwell, Justice Reinvestment Liaison, Oregon Criminal Justice Comm’n

Michelle Hall, Executive Director, NC Sentencing and Policy Advisory Comm’n

Carrie L. Peters, Sentencing Policy Specialist, Penn. Comm’n on Sentencing

Kelly Mitchell (moderator), Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

11:45 p.m.        Lunch


NASC Business Meeting

1:15 p.m.        Plenary Session 4: How High Profile Cases Impact Sentencing Policy

Criminal cases appear in the media on a regular basis. And when cases are especially egregious, sensational, or high profile, they may have cascading impacts on legislation, sentencing guidelines, and local sentencing practices. Panel members will share a variety of experiences relating to high profile cases that had the potential to or resulted in changes to their sentencing laws and/or Sentencing Guidelines. This discussion will address issues raised by high profile cases and how best to navigate them.

Christine Scott-Hayward, Assistant Professor, California State University Long Beach

Hon. John Lu, Judge, Massachusetts Superior Court

Kelly Mitchell, Executive Director, Robina Inst. of Crim. Law & Crim. Justice

Jennifer Valencia, Director, Utah Sentencing Commission

Hon. Sheila Woods-Skipper, Chair, Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing

Linden Fry (moderator), General Counsel, D.C. Sentencing and Criminal Code Revision Commission

2:30 p.m.        Conference Adjourns