Evidence-Based Sentencing to Improve Public Safety and Reduce Recidivism:
A Model Curriculum for Judges

The National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Evidence-Based Sentencing (EBS) curriculum was first developed as a model judicial education curriculum on EBS in partnership with the National Judicial College and the Crime & Justice Institute with financial support from the Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts (PEW) and the State Justice Institute (SJI). With financial support from the US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), it was later revised and updated as a “Smarter Sentencing” curriculum. In 2017-2018, with financial support from PEW and NCSC and with the assistance of the NCSC’s EBS Judicial Peer Group (an informal group of judges and other criminal justice practitioners active in local sentencing reform activities), it has again been revised and updated. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of PEW, BJA, or SJI.

Curriculum materials 

  • Introduction to the NCSC EBS Curriculum (.pdf file): The introduction provides more information about the curriculum and how it can be tailored for various presentation lengths.
  • NCSC EBS Curriculum (.ppt file): The complete NCSC EBS Curriculum is presented in the form of a PowerPoint slide deck with extensive notes pages for use by instructional faculty. 
  • Developing Effective Sentencing and Violation Response Scenarios (.pdf file): The NCSC EBS Curriculum typically incorporates scenario-based learning exercises. This supplemental document provides guidance for instructional faculty on developing or tailoring sentencing exercises to local sentencing cultures.