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Sentencing as a Sociopolitical Process - Environmental Contextual, and Individual Level Dimensions, Final Report
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The research design incorporated three distinct analytical approaches: an individual level which examined the attitudes and role perceptions of critical decisionmakers in the criminal process; a contextual level which focused on the organizational level in which individuals made decisions; and the environment level which looked at a community's legal, economic, and social characteristics and the structure of its institutions. Data sources included interviews, questionnaires, and court case records, and the counties selected represented differing degrees of prosperity, population homogeneity, and political insulation. The report first discusses the rationale for using this approach, the theoretical model, and data collection techniques. It describes the environmental characteristcs of each court, including socioeconomic factors, political structure, patterns of crime, jail capacity, linkages between the criminal court and the larger community, and State-level features of the court's environment. The analysis of the context in which cases are decided focuses on the prosecutor's office, and defense bar, and the bench, along with techniques used to schedule and assign cases to courtrooms and judges. A macroanalysis of sentencing looks at measures of severity and factors that might explain variations, such as prison capacity and criminal code. A micro-level analysis of sentencing integrates contextual and individual factors, assessing the impact on sentencing in a pooled set of cases of case attributes, defendant attributes, and intermediate actions and occurrences and then extending this statistical model to the nine-county sample. Aspects of this model that pertain to the role of decisionmakers are also discussed. The final chapter presents the study's conclusions and explores their implications for sentencing reforms and future research. Questionnaires and additional materials on the study's methodology are appended. Tables, charts, and references are supplied. source
NCJ 94670
United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice
Place of Production:
Washington, DC

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