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Pub. Type:
Judicial Reactions to Sentencing Guidelines
Subtitle/Series Name:
Pub. Date:
May 1981
The reaction of Federal judges to sentencing guidelines is likely to be a key factor in the guidelines' success. While Federal judges do not offer complete endorsement of current Federal sentencing practices, relatively few express serious criticism of the current process. Generally, they do not perceive unwarranted disparity as a serious, recurring problem. To determine judicial reaction to two key components of guidelines - range of prescribed sentence and degree of enforcement, judges were asked to indicate how satisfied they would be with four guideline proposals. There was widespread resistance to the first three proposals, and even the least stringent proposal regarding voluntary guidelines with wide sentence ranges met with substantially negative reaction. It appears that judges may perceive guidelines as an encroachment on their discretion. Judges seem to prefer the guidelines to be complex, incorporating several factors. Guideline reform should be presented to the judiciary as important, but as an undramatic advance over current practices. Implementation should be accompanied by fairly extensive communications efforts seeking to persuade judges of the need for guidelines. The most promising sentencing guideline model would prescribe a wide sentence range and would be strictly enforced through appellate review. source
NCJ 82882
United States Department of Justice, Federal Justice Research Program
Place of Production:
Washington, DC

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