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NCJ Number: 182864 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Sentencing and the Court Probation Office: The Myth of Individualized Justice Revisited
Journal: Justice System Journal  Volume:20  Issue:3  Dated:1999  Pages:255-273
Author(s): Rodney Kingsnorth; Debra Cummings; John Lopez; Jennifer Wentworth
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 19
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article presents the findings of a study of the “myth of individualized justice” thesis and offers a revised conception of the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSIR).
Abstract: The “myth of individualized justice” thesis argues that, while individualized justice no longer exists in substantive form, the myth, institutionalized in the PSIR, endures because it performs important latent functions for the court system. Using a sample of cases charged with felony sexual assault, this study revisits that thesis and offers a revised conception of the PSIR. The probation officer was excluded from participation in sentencing by means of the waiver procedure in 23 percent of negotiated cases. Probation officers submitted sentencing recommendations more severe than the plea in 29 percent of their reports. Judges rejected those recommendations in almost all instances. Probation officers relied on the same sentencing values as prosecutors and judges in forming recommendations. Probation officers were viewed positively by judges and prosecuting attorneys but negatively by defense attorneys. The article suggests that the probation officer is best seen as an “agent of the state,” and the PSIR should be viewed as an instrument for implementing punishment values. Figures, note, references, statutes and cases cited
Main Term(s): Courts
Index Term(s): Court procedures; Criminology theory evaluation; Defense counsel; Judicial discretion; Presentence investigations; Probation or parole officers; Prosecutors; Sentencing factors; Sentencing recommendations; Sentencing/Sanctions
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