skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 223854 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Assessing Consistency and Fairness in Sentencing: A Comparative Study in Three States
Author(s): Brian J. Ostrom; Charles W. Ostrom; Roger A. Hanson; Matthew Kleiman
Date Published: May 2008
Page Count: 336
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Rockville, MD 20849
Grant Number: 2003-IJ-CX-1015
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Dataset: DATASET 1
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis; Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the degree to which sentencing guidelines in Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia achieved the following objectives: consistency (similar cases are sentenced similarly); proportionality (more serious offenders are punished more severely); and the absence of discrimination in sentencing (age, gender, and race are insignificant factors in determining who goes to prison and for how long).
Abstract: Statistical analyses found that consistency was achieved under the sentencing guidelines of all three systems. Regarding proportionality, all of the systems had difficulties. The underlying policy distinctions among various levels of offense seriousness and criminal history categories were not uniformly significant in determining recommendations for a prison sentence or the length of a recommended prison sentence. Regarding discrimination, there were statistically significant impacts for some discriminatory factors; however, the substantive effect on sentencing was minimal. The study concludes that refinement and closer monitoring of the guidelines in each State should be sufficient to improve proportionality and nondiscrimination in the implementation of sentencing guidelines. There is no need to overhaul the structure and organization of the sentencing guidelines system in any one of the three States. The three State sentencing guideline systems were selected as representative of alternative ways of configuring the control of judicial discretion in sentencing in terms of the presumptive versus voluntary nature of the guidelines as well as their basic mechanics. A statistical model was constructed in order to establish the relationship between each of two dependent variables (imprisonment/no imprisonment and length of imprisonment) and two sets of independent variables or possible explanatory factors: measures of the essential elements and mechanics of each guideline system and measures of extra-legal (extra-guideline) factors. The statistical model was used to evaluate consistency, proportionality, and nondiscrimination in the application of the guidelines and whether they were implemented as designed. Chapter figures and tables and 150 references
Main Term(s): State courts
Index Term(s): Discretionary decisions; Discrimination; Judicial discretion; Michigan; Minnesota; NIJ final report; Sentencing factors; Sentencing guidelines; Virginia
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.