Jury Sentencing in the United States: The Antithesis of the Rule of Law
40 Mitchell Hamline Law Journal of Public Policy and Practice 23, 2019
29 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2019
Date Written: 2019
The well-documented randomness and arbitrariness that plagues capital sentencing stems from the wide discretion granted to sentencing actors, namely jurors. However, this wide discretion exists in the non-capital sentencing context as well. Accordingly, arbitrary sentences are not confined to the capital sentencing context. Instead these arbitrary sentences result from structural choices designed to insulate jurors from the impact of their decisions. This article explores how the statutory jury sentencing schemes used in the six states that retain jury sentencing contribute significantly to the arbitrary nature of sentences imposed. This article further provides practical ways in which jurors could be made to feel responsible for the sentences they impose, leading them to impose less arbitrary sentences.
Keywords: jury, juror, sentencing, sentencing guidelines
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