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NCJ Number: 50368 Find in a Library
Title: PATUXENT AND DISCRETION IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Journal: BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PSYCHIATRY AND THE LAW  Volume:5  Issue:2  Dated:(1977)  Pages:SYMPOSIUM ISSUE,P 144-160
Author(s): B H HOFF
Corporate Author: University of Pittsburgh
School of Law
United States of America
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 17
Sponsoring Agency: University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE FAIRNESS AND EFFECTIVENESS OF THE JUDICIAL DECISIONMAKING PROCESSES RELATIVE TO REFERRAL, COMMITMENT, AND RELEASE AT THE PATUXENT INSTITUTION IN MARYLAND ARE ASSESSED.
Abstract: PATUXENT IS A FACILITY FOR THE CONFINEMENT AND TREATMENT OF DANGEROUS OFFENDERS. UNDER MARYLAND LAW, OFFENDERS JUDGED TO BE DEFECTIVE DELINQUENTS CAN BE COMMITTED INVOLUNTARILY TO THE INSTITUTION TO SERVE INDETERMINATE SENTENCES. THE DECISIONMAKING PROCESSES GOVERNING REFERRAL, COMMITMENT, AND RELEASE AT PATUXENT WERE ASSESSED AS PART OF AN EVALUATION OF THE INSTITUTION CONDUCTED IN 1976. THE DECISIONMAKING PORTION OF THE STUDY INVOLVED ANALYSIS OF STATUTORY AND CASE LAW, REVIEWS OF PATUXENT RECORDS AND COURT FILES, AND INTERVIEWS WITH JUDGES, PROSECUTORS, AND DEFENSE ATTORNEYS IN SEVERAL MARYLAND JURISDICTIONS. THE STUDY REVEALED A NUMBER OF SERIOUS PROBLEMS THAT IMPEDED BOTH THE EFFECTIVENESS AND THE FAIRNESS OF THE DECISIONMAKING PROCESS BY WHICH OFFENDERS WERE COMMITTED TO PATUXENT. STANDARDS FOR REFERRAL TO THE INSTITUTION WERE NEITHER CLEAR NOR UNIFORMLY APPLIED, YET REFERRALS RESULTED IN COMMITMENT ABOUT 50 PERCENT OF THE TIME. JUDICIAL AND PROSECUTORIAL POLICIES AGAINST REFERRING OFFENDERS TO PATUXENT RESULTED IN WIDE GEOGRAPHIC VARIATIONS IN REFERRAL AND COMMITMENT RATES. STATUTORY AMBIGUITY (INCLUDING AMBIGUITY IN THE DEFINITION OF DEFECTIVE DELINQUENT) AND CASE DECISIONS PERMITTING PATUXENT UNREVIEWABLE POWER TO INCLUDE OR EXCLUDE INMATES WHO MET STATUTORY CRITERIA CREATED SERIOUS THREATS TO DUE PROCESS. THE RELUCTANCE OF THE INSTITUTIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW (PATUXENT'S PAROLE AUTHORITY) TO RECOMMEND RELEASE OF INMATES CONTRASTED MARKEDLY WITH THE MORE LIBERAL POLICIES OF THE COURTS. BEYOND THESE FINDINGS, THE EVALUATORS NOTED THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT WITH ACCURACY WHETHER INMATES CONTINUE TO POSE A THREAT TO SOCIETY. THE EVALUATORS CONCLUDED THAT THE MARYLAND LAW GOVERNING COMMITMENT OF OFFENDERS TO PATUXENT WAS NOT WORKING IN AN EFFICIENT, FAIR, OR UNIFORM MANNER AND THAT, BECAUSE OF INHERENT AMBIGUITIES AND LIMITED KNOWLEDGE ABOUT DANGEROUSNESS, SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT IN THE OPERATION OF THE LAW WAS IMPOSSIBLE. SUPPORTING DATA ARE INCLUDED. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED--LKM)
Index Term(s): Civil commitment; Decisionmaking; Evaluation; Judicial discretion; Maryland; Parole board discretion; Patuxent Institution; Violent offenders
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50368

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