House Bill No. 102

Introduced By beaudry

By Request of the Department of Corrections

A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act establishing the correctional and sentencing policy for the state of Montana; adopting principles to implement the state policy; and amending section

46-18-101, MCA."

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:

Section 1.  Section 46-18-101, MCA, is amended to read:

"46-18-101.   Correctional and sentencing policy. (1) It is the purpose of this section to declare establish the correctional and sentencing policy of the state of Montana. Laws for the punishment of crime and for the rehabilitation of the convicted are drawn to implement the policy established by this section.

(2)  The correctional and sentencing policy of the state of Montana is to protect society by preventing crime through punishment and rehabilitation of the convicted. The legislature finds that an individual is responsible for and must be held accountable for the individual's actions, including, whenever possible, the restoration of all pecuniary losses sustained by a victim of the offense. Corrections laws and programs must be implemented to impress upon each individual the responsibility for obeying the law. To achieve this end, it is the policy of the state to assure that prosecution of criminal offenses occurs whenever probable cause exists and that punishment of the convicted is certain, timely, and consistent. Furthermore, it is the state's policy that persons convicted of a crime be dealt with in accordance with their individual characteristics, circumstances, needs, and potentialities. Finally, it is the policy of the state to recognize that the interests of crime victims should be considered so that, to the extent possible, victims of crime may be protected from threat of future harm by the offender.

(3)  (a) Sentences imposed upon those convicted of crime must be based primarily on the following:

(i)  the crime committed;

(ii) the prospects of rehabilitation of the offender;

(iii) the circumstances under which the crime was committed;

(iv) the criminal history of the offender; and

(v)  consideration of alternatives to imprisonment of the offender in the state prison or the women's correctional system.

(b)  Dangerous offenders who habitually violate the law and victimize the public must be removed from society and correctively treated in custody for long terms, as needed. Other offenders must be dealt with by probation, suspended sentence, community corrections, community service, or fine whenever the disposition appears practicable and not detrimental to the needs of public safety and the welfare of the individual. Whenever possible, sentences for offenders must include restitution to the victim, payment of costs as provided in 46-18-232, and payment of costs of court-appointed counsel as provided in 46-8-113:

(a) punish each offender commensurate with the nature and degree of harm caused by the offense;

(b) protect the public by incarcerating violent offenders and serious repeat offenders;

(c) provide restitution, reparation, and restoration to the victim of the offense; and

(d) encourage the offender's self-improvement.

(4)  It is also the policy of the state that alternatives to imprisonment, such as community corrections, should be used whenever appropriate for nonviolent felony offenders in order to provide them opportunities to gain work experience, to learn life skills, to obtain education and training, or to participate in other activities that will reduce recidivism and enable offenders to become productive members of society

(3) To achieve the policy outlined in subsection (2), the state of Montana adopts the following principles:

(a) Sentencing and punishment must be certain, timely, consistent, and understandable.

(b) Sentences should be commensurate with the punishment imposed on other persons committing the same offenses.

(c) Sentencing practices must be neutral with respect to the offender's race, gender, religion, national origin, or social or economic status.

(d) Sentencing practices must permit judicial discretion to consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

(e) Sentencing practices must punish violent and serious repeat felony offenders with incarceration.

(f) Sentencing practices must provide alternatives to imprisonment for the punishment of those nonviolent felony offenders who do not have serious criminal records.

(g) Sentencing and correctional practices must emphasize that the offender is responsible for obeying the law and must hold the offender accountable for the offender's actions.

(h) Adequate prison space and community facilities and programs must be available to ensure implementation of the correctional and sentencing policy of the state of Montana."