Criminal Sentencing

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Judicial discretion was prevalent over the first half of the last three decades, but has been regulated by legislature since 1984. Discretion by definition is the authorization of deciding as one thinks fit, absolutely or within limits (Ntanda, 1999). Indeterminate sentencing, traditionally, has afforded judges considerable discretion over the resolve of criminal sentencing. “While such discretion theoretically allows judges to tailor sentences to the circumstances of individual crimes and criminals, thereby achieving a sort of ex post fairness, it also permits variation in sentences that may not be warranted by the observable facts of the case, reflecting instead the judge’s own preferences” (Miceli, 2008, p.207). The punishment range of a defendant is typically based on the seriousness of the offense as well as the defendant’s criminal history which is dictated by sentencing guidelines. Judges, with few exceptions, are bound to select a sentence from the aforementioned range; however, as judges do retain some discretion it is the legislature that controls much of the sentencing as they establish the guideline that judges are to utilize.
In 1984, The Comprehensive Crime Control Act was passed by Congress, and thus created the United States Sentencing Commission. The primary objective of the United States Sentencing Commission was to reform criminal sentencing procedures in this country (Miceli, 2008). Criminal sentencing procedures required reform as significant disparities exist between defendants with similar criminal history records. The aforementioned statement would suggest that prior to reform that judicially imposed sentences varied across defendants in ways that were deemed unjust by Congress. “Congress has p...

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...s exist for the convicted and judges take these factors into consideration during the sentencing decision. Often time’s the age and poor health of an older offender has been considered by judges, and in some instances resulted in leniency during the judge’s sentencing decision.

Works Cited

DISCRETION. Contemporary Economic Policy, 26(2), 207-215.
Mueller-Johnson, K., & Dhami, M. K. (2010). Effects of offenders’ age and health on sentencing decisions. The Journal of Social Psychology, 150(1), 77-97.
Ntanda, D. D. (1999). Minimum sentences and their effect on judicial discretion.
Crime, Law and Social Change, 31(4), 363-384.
United States, S. C. (2012). Report to congress: Mandatory minimum penalties in the federal criminal justice system. Federal Sentencing Reporter, 24(3), 185-192.
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