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NCJ Number: 140276 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Structuring Sentencing Discretion: The New Federal Sentencing Guidelines (From United States Sentencing Commission Reprint Series, V I, June 1992, P 147-207 -- See NCJ-140271)
Author(s): I H Nagel
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 61
Sponsoring Agency: US Sentencing Cmssn
Washington, DC 20002
Sale Source: US Sentencing Cmssn
1 Columbus Circle, NE
Suite 2-500, South Lobby
Washington, DC 20002
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reviews the background and history of the development of the Federal sentencing guidelines, the court case that established their constitutionality, and the bases for the major decisions reflected in the first iteration of guidelines.
Abstract: The primary task set for the U.S. Sentencing Commission by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 was to promulgate mandatory sentencing guidelines that structure the discretion of Federal judges. This structuring of judicial discretion is designed to reduce sentencing disparity that undermines "equal justice under law." The introduction to this article defines judicial discretion and underscores the terms of recent calls for reform in this area. The author then discusses the historical shifts in sentencing goals in various major cultures of world history, followed by a historical summary of sentencing goals from colonial America to the present. The author then turns to an overview of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, the enabling legislation for the creation and work of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Key specific directives given to the commission by the act are outlined. Following the implementation of the sentencing guidelines formulated by the commission in 1987, the first challenge to their constitutionality came in Mistretta v. United States (1989) before the U.S. Supreme Court. The rationales for challenges to the guidelines and the Court's upholding of their constitutionality are explained. Following an elaboration of the bases for the major decisions reflected in the first promulgation of the guidelines, the article concludes with an explanation of the U.S. Sentencing Commission's commitment to future monitoring, evaluation, and revision of the guidelines. 306 footnotes
Main Term(s): Judicial discretion; Sentencing guidelines
Index Term(s): Federal courts; Sentencing disparity; Sentencing factors
Note: Reprinted from The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 80(4):883-943 (1990).
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