Sentencing Guidelines in the Criminal Justice System

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The criminal justice system has been in place the United States for centuries. The system has endured many changes throughout the ages. The need for a checks and balances system has been a priority for just as long. Federal sentencing guidelines were created to help create equal punishments among offenders. Judges are given the power of sentencing and they are not immune to opinions, bias, and feelings. These guidelines are set in place to allow the judge to keep their power but keep them within a control group of equality. Although there are a lot of pros to sentencing guidelines there are also a lot of cons. Research has shown that sentencing guidelines have allowed the power to shift from judges to prosecutors and led to sentencing disparity based on sex, race, and social class. There are differences between state and federal sentencing guidelines. The federal guidelines are very vast and complicated (Leonard-Kempf and Sample 2001 p.113). These guidelines have been amended many times over the course of the past 25 years. According to Gazal-Ayal, Turjeman and Fishman (2013 p. 131) judges have historically had the weight and responsibility to sentence criminals in the way that they see fit. Some judges have abused this responsibility leading to the creation of sentencing guidelines. The Sentencing Reform Act was passed in 1984 in order to place strict guidelines on the judge’s discretion during sentencing (Rehavi and Starr 2013 p. 11). The United States Sentencing Committee wanted to keep the judge’s personal opinions and beliefs separate from the courtroom in order to create fair sentences. The creation of sentencing guidelines keeps people involved in the sentencing process in check. These guidelines have ... ... middle of paper ... ...09. Richman, D. (2013). Federal White Collar Sentencing in the United States: A Work In Progress. Law & Contemporary Problems, 76(1), 53-73. Rozen, M. S. (2011). Abandoning the Victim Requirement: Clarifying the Position of Trust Enhancement in Federal Sentencing. University Of Chicago Law Review, 78(4), 1543-1583. Siegfried, D. I. (2010). "Based On" the Guidelines? Applying Retroactive Sentencing Amendments to Binding Plea Agreements. University Of Chicago Law Review,77(4), 1801-1839. Starr, S. B., & Rehavi, M. (2013). Mandatory Sentencing and Racial Disparity: Assessing the Role of Prosecutors and the Effects of Booker.Yale Law Journal,123(1), 2-80. Steiker, C. S. (2013). Lessons From Two Failures: Sentencing For Cocaine And Child Pornography Under The Federal Sentencing Guidelines In The United States. Law & Contemporary Problems, 76(1), 27-52.
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