The Massachusetts Trial Court has announced that the four Trial
Court departments with criminal jurisdiction have issued
comprehensive criminal sentencing reports, including best practice principles to assist judges in
developing individualized, evidence-based sentences that are
intended to improve offenders' chances of success upon release,
reduce recidivism and better secure public safety.
"In response to the commitment made by Supreme Judicial Court
Chief Justice Ralph Gants in his first State of the Judiciary
address, I am pleased to report that the Trial Court has completed
a thorough set of reports outlining principles to provide
consistent, informed guidance to judges in determining sentences
that are best suited to the adjudication of individual cases," said
Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey.
The Sentencing Best Practice principles state that sentences
should be proportionate to the gravity of the offense, the harm
done to crime victims and the role of the offender. A sentence
should be no more severe than necessary to achieve its purposes,
and special conditions of probation should be narrowly tailored to
the needs of the defendant, the public and the victim, because an
excessive number of special conditions may increase rather than
decrease the likelihood of recidivism. The principles also
encourage judges to inform defendants at the time of sentencing
that the court will consider early termination of their probation
or lift some conditions if they fully comply.