From the very beginning, almost everyone familiar with the sentencing guidelines has recognized that substantial assistance motions pose a severe threat to the goal of horizontal equity in sentencing. The problem stems in part from the fact that any scheme using sentencing leniency to reward cooperation reduces the likelihood that two defendants of similar culpability and criminal history will receive the same sentence if one cooperates and the other doesn't. The damage, however, is potentially magnified by the particular system established by the federal guidelines: The absence of clear guidelines as to how cooperators should be treated makes it likely that the same two defendants will not receive like treatment even if both render the same degree of assistance to the government.
The Challenges of Investigating Section 5K1.1 in Practice,
Fed. Sent'g. Rep.
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