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NCJ Number: 51683 Find in a Library
Title: RECOMMENDATIONS, SOCIAL INFORMATION AND SENTENCING
Journal: HOWARD JOURNAL OF PENOLOGY AND CRIME PREVENTION  Volume:17  Issue:2  Dated:(1978)  Pages:91-100
Author(s): J HINE; W MCWILLIAMS; K PEASE
Corporate Author: Howard League for Penal Reform
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: Howard League for Penal Reform
London, N19 3NL, England
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF THE INFLUENCE OF PRESENTENCE REPORTS ON THE SENTENCING DECISIONS OF ENGLISH TRIAL COURT JUDGES IS REPORTED.
Abstract: MAGISTRATES FROM TWO AREAS OF ENGLAND (46 FROM ROTHERHAM AND 62 FROM MANCHESTER) PARTICIPATED IN THE RESEARCH. FOR 12 CASES, THE JUSTICES WERE ASKED TO PASS SENTENCE (PROBATION, FINE, OR DETENTION) ON THE BASIS OF A SOCIAL INQUIRY REPORT (A PRESENTENCE REPORT PREPARED BY A PROBATION OFFICER) CONTAINING EITHER BASIC INFORMATION ONLY (DETAILS OF THE OFFENSES AND POLICE REPORT), BASIC INFORMATION PLUS SOCIAL INFORMATION, OR BASIC INFORMATION PLUS SOCIAL INFORMATION AND A SENTENCING RECOMMENDATION. THE MAGISTRATES' RESPONSES WERE ANALYZED TO DETERMINE THE INFLUENCE OF THE REPORTS ON SENTENCING DECISIONS. THE FINDING THAT SENTENCING RECOMMENDATIONS AFFECTED SENTENCING DECISIONS ABOVE AND BEYOND THE EFFECT OF PROVIDING SOCIAL INFORMATION SUPPORTS THE CONTENTION OF AN EARLIER STUDY THAT HIGH LEVELS OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN RECOMMENDATIONS AND SENTENCES MEAN THAT SENTENCERS HOLD PROBATION OFFICERS IN HIGH REGARD. HOWEVER, THE CONTENTION THAT SOME OFFENDERS ARE 'OBVIOUS' CANDIDATES FOR PRISON OR PROBATION RECEIVES LESS SUPPORT. SOME CASES FOR WHICH A PARTICULAR SENTENCE SEEMED OBVIOUS WHEN ONLY BASIC INFORMATION WAS PROVIDED IN THE PRESENTENCE REPORT BECAME PROGRESSIVELY LESS OBVIOUS CANDIDATES FOR THAT SENTENCE AS MORE INFORMATION WAS PROVIDED. THE WIDE DISPARITY IN SENTENCING UNDER TWO OF THE REPORT INFORMATION CONDITIONS SUGGESTS THAT PROBATION OFFICERS WOULD FIND IT DIFFICULT TO ANTICIPATE THE SENTENCING DECISIONS OF JUDGES WITH ANY ACCURACY. THE DATA ALSO SUGGEST THAT PROBATION OFFICERS AND JUDGES MAY DIFFER IN THE EMPHASIS THEY PLACE ON CERTAIN TYPES OF INFORMATION OR IN THE IMPLICATIONS THEY DRAW FROM THAT INFORMATION. OVERALL, THE FINDINGS INDICATE THAT SOCIAL INQUIRY REPORTS DO INFLUENCE THE DECISIONS OF JUDGES. SOME OBSERVERS, HOWEVER, BELIEVE THAT INTRODUCTION OF SOCIAL INQUIRY REPORTS INTO THE COURT SYSTEM MEANS MERELY THAT THE IDIOSYNCRACIES AND PERSONAL PHILOSOPHIES OF THE REPORT WRITERS ARE SUBSTITUTED FOR THOSE OF THE JUDICIARY. SUPPORTING DATA AND A LIST OF REFERENCES ARE INCLUDED. (LKM)
Index Term(s): Court records; England; Judicial discretion; Presentence investigations; Sentencing/Sanctions; Studies
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51683

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