Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1978

Center/Program

Center for Law and Economic Studies

Abstract

The existence of disparities in the sentences imposed on equally culpable offenders has long been a subject of jurisprudential concern. The author provides a critique of recent efforts to objectify the sentencing process that rely on a matrix table prescribing guideline sentence lengths on the basis of offense severity and predictions of recidivism. With particular emphasis on the Sentencing Commission authorized by pending federal legislation, he urges the need for political accountability in the body that inevitably makes value judgments in the preparation and administration of such a guideline system. Finally, the author discusses the normative issues that surround the development of any sentencing system, critiques various normative models, and advances a model that recognizes the paramount importance of equality in sentencing while preserving the efficiency of a carefully administered system of categoric prediction.

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