Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

The American Law Institute Approves Model Penal Code: Sentencing

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (May 25, 2107) – Members of the American Law Institute (ALI) voted this week at the organization’s 2017 annual meeting to approve the final draft of Model Penal Code: Sentencing, a 15-year project by Reporter Professor Kevin Reitz, Co-Director of the Robina Institute at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Associate Reporter Associate Professor Cecelia Klingele, University of Wisconsin Law School and Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.

“This is an enormous accomplishment,” said Dean Garry W. Jenkins (University of Minnesota Law School). “Sentencing is contentious by its nature, and this project involved working closely with professors, judges, practitioners, and others, all of whom had strong opinions. It was a marathon of investigating, listening, debating, drafting, and redrafting—and in guiding it to a successful conclusion, Professor Reitz has done a great service to the legal profession, the law, and the nation.”

The project, launched in 2001, re-examines the sentencing provisions of the ALI’s 1962 Model Penal Code in light of the many changes in sentencing philosophy and practice that have taken place since its original publication. It provides guidance on some of the most important issues that courts, corrections systems, and policymakers are facing today: general purposes of the sentencing system; rules governing severity—including sentences of incarceration, community supervision, and economic penalties; the elimination of mandatory minimum penalties; mechanisms for combating racial and ethnic disparities in punishment; instruments of prison population control; victims’ rights in the sentencing process; the creation of judicial powers to review many collateral consequences of conviction; sentencing commissions, sentencing guidelines, and more.

“As a matter of recent history in this country, we’re at an important moment where the conversation and political attitudes towards criminal justice policy and sentencing policy have been shifting dramatically at the state level,” Reitz said. “Despite current uncertainties in the federal government, legislators, policymakers, and lawmakers in state and local criminal justice systems are searching for workable solutions to problems of mass punitiveness that have grown since the 1970s.”

“This moment in history is particularly fortuitous for the Model Penal Code because we are arriving at the point of completion just as this new or changed nationwide debate is occurring. For lawmakers, judges, and corrections leaders, we can provide the tools they will need to create important and lasting sentencing reforms in their jurisdictions.”

“Over the last 15 years, the reporters— aided by their Advisers and Members Consultative Group— have done a prodigious amount of work and deserve our collective gratitude,” said ALI Director Richard Revesz. “During this period, the subject matter of this project has also received sustained attention in the public policy arena, which has focused on the outlier status of the United States in terms of the proportion of individuals who are incarcerated and on the significant racial disparities that make this statistic even more troubling. Mass incarceration has emerged as one of the few issues in our divided political discourse in which liberals and conservatives can find common ground.”

About The American Law Institute

The American Law Institute is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law. The ALI drafts, discusses, revises, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Model Codes, and Principles of Law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education. By participating in the Institute’s work, its distinguished members have the opportunity to influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas, to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, and academics, to give back to a profession to which they are deeply dedicated, and to contribute to the public good. All approvals by membership at the Annual Meeting are subject to the discussion at the Meeting and usual editorial prerogative.

For more information about The American Law Institute, visit www.ali.org.