The Future of Federal Sentencing Policy: Learning Lessons from Republican Judicial Appointees in the Guidelines Era

58 Pages Posted: 18 May 2007 Last revised: 17 Sep 2015

David M. Zlotnick

Roger Williams University School of Law

Abstract

In the two years since the landmark Booker decision, federal sentencing policy has been in a state of suspended animation. This Article urges federal sentencing reform advocates to look to an unlikely source for realistic goals and ideological support - the experiences of Republican judicial appointees in the Guidelines era. My findings are based upon a long-term research project into cases in which Republican appointees stated their disagreement with the sentences required by law from the bench. The Article discusses the primary product of my research, forty comprehensive case profiles and their policy implications. Specifically, the Article demonstrates how the lessons of these Republican appointees are relevant to three of the critical issues in the post-Booker sentencing debate; first, the need for mandatory minimums, second, the desirability of a legislative Booker fix, and finally, specific areas for reform, such as the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences, that might have traction in what is likely to be a cautious Democratic Congress on criminal justice issues. By making use of these judges' insights, I argue that the sentencing debate can transcend tough-on-crime posturing to smart-on-crime policies that better protect both public safety and the public fisc. The Article concludes by drawing on these judges' words and deeds to construct a rhetorical framework for meaningful, bipartisan sentencing reform in the post-Booker era.

Keywords: federal sentencing, booker, judges

Suggested Citation

Zlotnick, David M., The Future of Federal Sentencing Policy: Learning Lessons from Republican Judicial Appointees in the Guidelines Era. University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 79, 2008; Roger Williams Univ. Legal Studies Paper No. 49. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=987094

David M. Zlotnick (Contact Author)

Roger Williams University School of Law ( email )

10 Metacom Avenue
Bristol, RI 02809
United States

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