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Maryland's Sentencing Guidelines - A System By and For Judges

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 68 Issue: 4-5 Dated: (October-November 1984) Pages: 172-180
M A Levin
Date Published
9 pages
The discussion reviews the historical background of the Maryland sentencing guidelines system, the basis for the guidelines model chosen, development of the guidelines, use of the guidelines worksheet, acceptance of the guidelines, areas in need of improvement, and the effect on prison crowding.
Maryland's unique sentencing guidelines system was created and developed by judges and is operated by judges with the assistance of a permanent staff. The system operates without control of a statute, functions without the oversight of a legislative commission, and without the authority of a rule. Since July 1, 1983, the judges in the circuit courts of Maryland have been using guidelines in all cases involving crimes against persons and property and controlled dangerous substance crimes. These guidelines are administered by a sentencing guidelines board consisting of 14 judges from each of Maryland's 8 judicial circuits. The board derives its authority from an enabling resolution of the Maryland Judicial Conference, a statewide body of all 212 Maryland judges. Despite pockets of resistance, the overwhelming majority of judges are conscientiously filling out the worksheets, using them, and sending them to staff at an annual rate of about 10,000 to 12,000. The guidelines, although not making sentences uniform, eliminate the impermissible highs and lows. A total of 24 footnotes are given.


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