Harnessing Local Variations in Federal Sentencing to Increase the System's Moral Credibility
35 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2009 Last revised: 17 Feb 2010
Date Written: June 19, 2009
This Essay attempts to provide an all-things-considered approach to justifying local sentencing variations in the federal system. Instead of trying to eliminate those disparities, this Essay contends that the federal sentencing system should embrace regional variations to increase the moral credibility of the system at the local level. To do this, it argues for the creation of regional sentencing commissions (one for each federal circuit), which would promulgate their own, regional sentencing guidelines. By premising each set of guidelines on Professor Paul H. Robinson’s distributive principle of empirical desert, which is informed by lay intuitions of justice, the federal system would be made to respond to community norms and conditions, thereby increasing local credibility.
Keywords: sentencing, federal sentencing, empirical desert, local variations, disparities, citizen congress, United States Sentencing Commission, United States Sentencing Guidelines
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