chapter  6
Implementing the Justice Model: Problems and Prospects
Pages 26

Perhaps the most significant indicator of the waning faith in the rehabilitative model has been the shift toward determinate sentencing in a number of states. The current skepticism

about our ability to effectively treat the criminal offender, as we have seen, is shared by con-

servatives and liberals alike. Thus, the movement to abandon the indeterminate sentence (a sentencing system which has been intimately associated with the rehabilitative model)

and to focus instead on punishment and retribution as the primary ends of the criminal

sanction has received broad-based support across the political spectrum. The speed with which determinate sentencing has taken hold across the country is surely not unrelated to

this widespread political support, and to the relative absence of defenders of the rehabilita-

tive ideal on the other hand. Given the almost universally-perceived need for criminal justice reform, determinate sen-

tencing would seem to offer something for everyone. However, this initial appeal has

masked the more specific and mutually exclusive ends espoused by liberal and conservative champions of sentencing reform. Liberal justice model supporters, for example, have sought

to curb the state’s control over its offenders by reducing and regulating the unbridled discretion within the criminal justice system and by equalizing the sanctions meted out for simi-

lar offenses. Conversely, conservatives have looked upon the determinate penalty structure

as a means of ensuring greater societal protection by increasing the certainty of punishment and by curtailing the power of judges and parole boards to release offenders prematurely.

Moreover, justice model proponents have strongly advocated short sentences and the prolif-

eration of alternatives to imprisonment, whereas conservatives have been convinced that longer prison terms are integral to the reduction of the crime problem. In the end, one real-

ity has thus become clear: the “bare bones” of determinacy and desert are as easily

adaptable to a program of “getting tough on crime” as to one of “doing justice.” In this light, it can again be noted that the crucial issue to be resolved is whether deter-

minate sentencing reform will ultimately take on a conservative or liberal flavor. That is,

can liberals realistically anticipate that their justice model will emerge from the political arena unscathed and serve as the blueprint for a new era of American criminal justice? Or,

after battling with conservative forces in state legislatures, is it more likely that the left will

suffer, at the very least, partial defeat and see only portions of its paradigm for justice