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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136363 Find in a Library
Title: Sentencing Guidelines Promote Truth and Justice
Journal: Federal Probation  Volume:55  Issue:4  Dated:(December 1991)  Pages:16-19
Author(s): A J Kleinfeld
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 4
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
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NCJRS Photocopy Services
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Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
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NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
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United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A U.S. Court of Appeals judge contends that Federal sentencing guidelines promote the public interest fairly well because they filter out inappropriate variations in sentencing that are based on individual philosophies of particular judges and probation officers.
Abstract: The fundamental problem with traditional, preguideline sentencing is that it focused on predicting the criminal's future behavior which is not an easy task. The current guidelines focus instead on determining what happened in the past, and historical fact-finding is what courts do best. It is fairer for criminals to be punished for what they have done and not for what they might do. Even though the guidelines improve the uniformity and quality of justice, many Federal judges and criminal defense attorneys seem to be unhappy with them. In particular, judges object to the amount of time required for guideline sentencing and to limits on their discretion. Much defense attorney discontent comes from a misunderstanding of when their defense is effective, as measured by more or less lenient sentences. Nonetheless, a major virtue of the guidelines is their alteration of the impact of docketing pressure on sentences. The combination of docket pressure and the Speedy Trial Act gives judges and prosecutors a large incentive to accept overly lenient plea bargains. The most troubling area of guideline sentencing is the way sentencing control is shifted from judges to prosecutors. In shaping indictments and negotiating plea bargains, prosecutors can exercise much more control than judges over sentences. 6 footnotes
Main Term(s): Sentencing guidelines
Index Term(s): Defense counsel effectiveness; Judicial discretion; Plea negotiations; Probation or parole officers; Prosecution; Sentence effectiveness
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