Assessing Consistency and Fairness in Sentencing: A Comparative Study in Three States

May 22, 2008

The National Center for State Courts conducted an in-depth examination of sentencing patterns in three states with substantially different guidelines systems: Minnesota, which has a relatively strict system; Michigan, whose guidelines offer more judicial discretion, and Virginia, where compliance with the recommended sentences is completely voluntary. Ultimately, how one interprets the observed differences in outcomes among the three states will reflect individual views on the appropriate level of judicial discretion.
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