Doing Justice in Sentencing

Crime and Justice—A Review of Research, Forthcoming

22 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2021

See all articles by Michael Tonry

Michael Tonry

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law

Date Written: October 4, 2021


Anyone who would read a paper on this subject or with this title knows that sentences received by people convicted of crimes in American courts, especially serious ones, are much too often cruelly severe, racially disparate, and reflective more of a prosecutor’s or judge’s idiosyncrasies than of a reasoned assessment of what considerations of justice concerning this offense by this person require or permit. The process is ultimately casual, as if invasive intrusion into someone’s life is a matter of no great importance. To people sentenced, their families, and others who love them it is devastatingly important. Relatively simple ideas about justice, fairness, equality, and parsimony provide a framework to replace contemporary casual justice with a jurisprudence that takes human dignity seriously.

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Tonry, Michael, Doing Justice in Sentencing (October 4, 2021). Crime and Justice—A Review of Research, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Michael Tonry (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law ( email )

229-19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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