Calls for promoting rehabilitation as part of criminal justice reform have echoed across the political spectrum for decades. Indiana and Oregon embarked on an interesting experiment in this area - recognizing the primacy of rehabilitation in their state constitutions. Both states' constitutions were drafted with sections declaring that the state's criminal law "shall be founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice. Since courts will play an indispensable role in crafting sentences that promote rehabilitation, the Oregon and Indiana courts' interpretation of these sections invaluably informs how other courts might treat a greater focus on rehabilitation. This Article argues that appellate courts in Indiana and Oregon have incorrectly interpreted these sections and effectively nullified them. The Article then considers various explanations for why appellate courts refused to enforce the sections. Counterintuitively, political sensitivity on the part of elected judges in Indiana and Oregon does not explain the phenomenon. Instead, the Article concludes that Oregon and Indiana appellate judges have lacked a workable framework to apply them. Finally, the Article proposes a framework for Indiana courts to consider challenges under its provision.
Marcus A. Gadson,
Constitutionalizing Rehabilitation Did Not Work: Lessons from Indiana And Oregon And A Way Forward,
Willamette L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.campbell.edu/fac_sw/172