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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 227953 Find in a Library
Title: Short-Versus Long-Term Effects of Ohio's Switch to More Structured Sentencing on Extralegal Disparities in Prison Sentences in an Urban Court
Journal: Criminology & Public Policy  Volume:8  Issue:2  Dated:May 2009  Pages:285-312
Author(s): John Wooldredge
Date Published: May 2009
Page Count: 28
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study of the impact of Ohio’s presumptive sentencing guidelines on sentencing disparities in one of the State’s largest jurisdictions focused on whether the switch to more structured sentencing in 1996 had any enduring effects.
Abstract: The findings show that the presumptive guidelines were successful over the long term in reducing incarceration rates in the county studied. Also, the average length of imprisonment for the sample dropped immediately after the guidelines became effective; however, the mean sentence length returned to the preguideline level by 2005, which countered any short-term effects of the guidelines. There was a significant long-term reduction in sentencing disparity based on race and marital status. Other significant changes in the distributions of extralegal characteristics over the long term included a high proportion of defendants ages 18-29 years and a higher proportion of defendants employed at the time of arrest. There were no changes in sentencing disparities based on a defendant’s sex and means of support. There were virtually no changes in the magnitude of legally relevant effects. The postguideline stability for the reduction in disparities related to many extralegal factors in the court examined bodes well for the sentencing scheme in its intent to promote continuity in organizational performance. This may indicate strong judicial commitment to the implementation of the guidelines based on their flexibility, which allows judges to retain some discretion in the selection of sentences. Legal and extralegal effects of sentencing guidelines on case outcomes were examined for samples of defendants indicated on felony charges in one of Ohio’s largest trial courts of general jurisdiction during three 1-year periods: 1995 (1 year prior to the sentencing reform); 1997 (1 year after the reform); and 2005 (9 years after and 1 year before the guidelines became voluntary). 4 tables and 49 references
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Judicial discretion; Legislative impact; Ohio; Sentencing disparity; Sentencing guidelines; Sentencing/Sanctions
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