Dissent from the United States Sentencing Commission's Proposed Guidelines

Paul H. Robinson

University of Pennsylvania Law School


Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 77, pp. 1112-1125, 1987
Federal Register, Vol. 52, pp. 3986-3988, 1987

I believe the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, which created the United States Sentencing Commission, contains two main directives. First, the Commission's guidelines must provide a rational and principled sentencing system that will further the purposes of just punishment and crime control. Second, the guidelines must reduce unwarranted disparity among sentences for similar offenders who commit similar offenses. The Act provides that this is to be achieved through the Commission's promulgation of a comprehensive sentencing system that will bind all federal judges. I opposed the Commission's Preliminary Draft of September, 1986, because I saw it as lacking both guiding principles and an effective means of reducing disparity. While the Commission's current proposed guidelines differ from the Preliminary Draft in many important respects, like its predecessor, this draft is not guided by rational unifying principles and it will not reduce sentencing disparity. Further, the current proposed guidelines transgress specific statutory limitations on the Commission's authority. Because I believe that the proposal violates both the intent and the letter of the Sentencing Reform Act, I cannot in good faith join the other members of the Commission in support of the proposed guidelines.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 15

Keywords: sentencing, guidelines, sentencing reform act, Commission's Preliminary Draft

JEL Classification: K14

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Date posted: February 4, 2005 ; Last revised: February 4, 2015

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Paul H., Dissent from the United States Sentencing Commission's Proposed Guidelines (1987). Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 77, pp. 1112-1125, 1987. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=661241

Contact Information

Paul H. Robinson (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
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