Too Severe?: A Defense of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (And a Critique of Federal Mandatory Minimums)
Paul G. Cassell
University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law
July, 13 2011
Stanford Law Review, Vol. 56, p. 1017, 2004
Are the federal sentencing practices too tough? This Article answers that question in light of the purposes of criminal sentencing: just punishment and crime control. The Article contents that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines satisfy both of these goals but that mandatory minimum sentences are redundant and should be reconsidered.
On the dimension of just punishment, the Guidelines generally track social norms by providing prison sentences that are consistent with the public’s view of appropriate punishment. On the dimension of crime control, the Guidelines create significant incapacitative and deterrence benefits by prescribing substantial penalties for serious federal crimes with high costs to victims. The Article concludes that, given this strong potential as cost-effective crime control measures, it is hard to understand how the Guidelines can be deemed too severe. It further finds that the mandatory minimum sentences serve only to prevent downward departures from the Guidelines in unusual cases, which can lead to possible injustices in particular cases.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: Victim, Crime Victim, Impact Statement, Criminal Justice, Sentencing
Date posted: July 15, 2011