05/21/2008 - State sentencing guidelines virtually erase discrimination in criminal punishments, regardless of how much judges are allowed to deviate from recommended prison terms, according to a study released Thursday.
The National Center for State Courts examined significantly different guidelines in three states: Virginia, where the guidelines are voluntary; Michigan, which offers some judicial discretion and Minnesota, which has the most mandatory system of the three.
The study concluded that the guidelines in each of those states result in consistent sentences that generally are not influenced by race and economic status. Wiping out racial discrimination was the major goal of a sentencing guidelines movement that began in the 1970s.
Read the full article Study: Sentencing Guidelines Ease Discrimination on the Chicago Tribune's Web site.