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The Booker Project: The Future of Federal Sentencing

11 Pages Posted: 16 May 2006  

Sandra Guerra Thompson

University of Houston Law Center


This article introduces the symposium issue entitled, "The Booker Project: The Future of Federal Sentencing." The symposium provides the first occasion to review Booker's impact after year of experience with advisory guidelines. The symposium issue includes articles by Professors Douglas A. Berman, Frank O. Bowman, III, Nancy J. King, and Ronald F. Wright. An exploration of the current state of federal sentencing and musings about the future are of great import because Congress may decide radically to reform federal sentencing in the future. Determining whether the Guidelines are in need of reform requires first determining the goals of the Guidelines and how we measure whether they are functioning properly.

To that end, the articles in the Issue address the practices of the federal district and appellate courts after Booker, examine the effects of changes on the system as a whole, and draw comparisons between the United States Sentencing Commission and other state sentencing commissions. Considered collectively, the articles support the view that the Guidelines are working in much the same way that they did before Booker, and thus, they are no more in need of a fix now as they were before Booker. One can only hope that Congress will either leave matters as they are or will engage in thoughtful discourse on how to bring about a rational sentencing scheme that provides useful guidance to courts without so narrowly constraining sentencing decisions as to effectively eliminate the role of the judge.

Keywords: federal sentencing guidelines, United States v. Booker, mandatory sentencing, advisory sentencing, due process, jury sentencing, sentencing commission, sentencing reform

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K49, Z00

Suggested Citation

Thompson, Sandra Guerra, The Booker Project: The Future of Federal Sentencing. Houston Law Review, Vol. 43, 2006; U of Houston Law Center Paper No. 2006-A-06. Available at SSRN:

Sandra Guerra Thompson (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States

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