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Structuring Sentencing (From Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, V 10, P 267-337, 1988, Michael Tonry and Norval Morris, eds. -- See NCJ-111254)

NCJ Number
M Tonry
Date Published
69 pages
Since the modern sentencing reform movement began in the mid-1970's, much has been learned about the effects of efforts to structure sentencing discretion.
Many new programs have failed to achieve their objectives: some innovations seem inherently flawed. Mandatory sentencing laws seem always to create injustices in individual cases and to produce efforts by judges and attorneys to avoid their application. By contrast, prosecutorial plea bargaining bans and rules and guidelines for parole have regularized decisionmaking and produced more consistent decisions. Both presumptive sentencing guidelines and statutory determinate sentencing laws can reduce sentencing disparities and change sentencing patterns, without substantial increases in workloads, case processing times, or trial rates, and without significant decreases in guilty plea rates. The major policy initiatives as yet not addressed or evaluated involve the development of guidelines for nonprison sentencing, development of judicial controls on plea bargaining, and the development of ways to sustain momentum and maintain desired levels of compliance after structured sentencing systems have been implemented. 12 tables and 98 references. (Author abstract modified)