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NCJ Number: 64519 Find in a Library
Title: SENTENCING PRACTICE IN MAGISTRATES' COURTS - ENGLAND
Author(s): R TARLING
Corporate Author: Great Britain Home Office
Research and Planning Unit
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 61
Sponsoring Agency: Great Britain Home Office
London. SW1H 9AT, England
Her Majesty's Stationery Office
Norwich, NR3 1GN,
Sale Source: Her Majesty's Stationery Office
PO Box 29
Norwich, NR3 1GN,
United Kingdom
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: THE STUDY SOUGHT TO DETERMINE THE SIZE OF DISCREPANCIES IN SENTENCES AWARDED AT ENGLISH MAGISTRATES' COURTS, TO DETERMINE HOW FAR THESE WERE ATTRIBUTABLE TO INTAKE DIFFERENCES, AND TO SEEK OTHER INFLUENCING FACTORS.
Abstract: THE STUDY WAS RESTRICTED TO MALE INDICTABLE OFFENDERS AGED 21 AND OVER. ONLY THE PRINCIPAL DISPOSALS WERE CONSIDERED: DISCHARGE, PROBATION, FINE, IMPRISONMENT (IMMEDIATE AND SUSPENDED), AND COMMITTAL TO THE CROWN COURT FOR SENTENCE UNDER S.29 OF THE MAGISTRATES' COURTS ACT 1952. EXAMINATION OF THE PENALTIES IMPOSED DURING THE PERIOD 1971 TO 1975 CONFIRMED THAT DISCREPANCIES EXIST AND THAT SOMETIMES THEY ARE QUITE LARGE. FOR EXAMPLE, WHILE ONE COURT FINED 46 PERCENT OF OFFENDERS APPEARING BEFORE IT, ANOTHER FINED 76 PERCENT; USE OF IMPRISONMENT RANGED FROM 3 TO 19 PERCENT. SOME OF THE DISCREPANCY AMONG COURTS WAS ATTRIBUTABLE TO DIFFERENCES IN OFFENDERS' AGES, OFFENSES, AND CRIMINAL HISTORIES. HOWEVER, AFTER CONTROLLING FOR THESE FACTORS, CONSIDERABLE DIFFERENCES IN SENTENCING PRACTICE REMAINED. SOME DISCREPANCY WAS FURTHER EXPLAINED BY DIFFERENCES OF JUDICIAL PROCEDURE, COURT RESOURCES, AND LOCAL CIRCUMSTANCES. FOR INSTANCE, THE USE OF PROBATION SEEMS TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE PROBATION RESOURCES AVAILABLE (I.E., THE NUMBER OF PROBATION OFFICERS PER 100 OFFENDERS). LEVEL OF FINE WAS RELATED TO PREVAILING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS IN THE IMMEDIATE LOCALITY. THE STUDY DID NOT ASSESS THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE MAGISTRATES' OWN BELIEFS AND ATTITUDES AFFECTED THEIR SENTENCING DECISIONS, BUT IT DID CONSIDER THE COURT OFFICIALS' ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE IMPORTANCE OF MAINTAINING CONSISTENCY IN THEIR OWN SENTENCING PRACTICE. MOST COURT OFFICIALS BELIEVED THAT THE DECISION TAKEN BY THE COURT SHOULD BE DETERMINED BY THE PARTICULAR CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OFFENDERS COMING BEFORE IT AND OF THE DISTRICT SERVED. THE STUDY SHOWED THAT COURTS HAVE VERY DIFFERENT WAYS OF DEALING WITH SIMILAR TYPES OF OFFENDERS. WAYS TO REDUCE THESE DISCREPANCIES ARE DISCUSSED. TABLES, FOOTNOTES, REFERENCES, AND AN APPENDIX OF RELATED DATA ARE INCLUDED. (AUTHOR ABTRACT MODIFIED--PRG)
Index Term(s): Adult court intake; Court reform; England; Judicial discretion; Sentencing disparity
Note: HOME OFFICE RESEARCH STUDY NO. 56
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64519

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