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NCJ Number: 136461 Find in a Library
Title: Examination of Emerging Departure Jurisprudence Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Journal: Notre Dame Law Review  Volume:67  Issue:1  Dated:(1991)  Pages:1-49
Author(s): B M Selyam; M R Kipp
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 49
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In November 1987, the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines became law, requiring judges to select a sentence from within a set range. A judge may depart from the guidelines in cases exhibiting unusual circumstances or when the defendant has substantially helped the prosecution. The judge must justify such departures, which are subject to appellate review.
Abstract: The guidelines are one outcome of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, which sought to remedy the inequality in sentencing that was a corollary of the considerable discretion allowed judges. Race, ethnicity, economic status, and gender were often underlying causes of these disparities. At the core of the guidelines is a sentencing grid, composed of 43 offense levels on its vertical axis and 6 criminal history categories on its horizontal axis. At the confluence of each offense level and criminal history category is the corresponding sentencing range. The structure and operation of the guidelines reflect the Commission's efforts to balance the competing values of a charge offense and a real offense system. The four discrete instances in which either the defendant or the government can appeal the sentencing decision reflect Congress's attempt to establish a limited practice of appellate review while preserving some degree of the judge's discretionary powers. This author details the appellate review of spontaneous departures under the new guidelines, as the courts try to craft a comprehensive and consistent system of review. 247 notes
Main Term(s): Appellate court decisions; Sentencing guideline compliance
Index Term(s): Sentencing disparity; US Sentencing Commission
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