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Sentencing systems throughout the United States have experienced great change over the past 30 years. Sentencing policy is often the target of reform as policymakers, judges, and other judicial decision makers grapple with the issues of discretion, sentencing disparity, and sentence severity. Determinate sentencing systems, which regularly entail the use of sentencing guidelines, are commonly employed in an effort to address a number of policy goals. Among the objectives of sentencing reforms are the reduction or elimination of unwarranted sentencing disparity based on extra-legal factors such as an offender's race, gender, or location. Previous research reports mixed findings regarding the level and existence of unwarranted sentencing disparity. Little is known about the effect of policy transformations on the determinants of sentencing outcomes. The present study examines the influence of legal and extra-legal factors on sentencing outcomes in Florida under three distinct sentencing policies. The analysis indicates that legally prescribed factors are the primary determinants of sentencing across all three policies, but extra-legal influences operate to impact outcomes as well. Important differences across policies in the effects of both legal and extra-legal factors are also revealed. The evidence presented here suggests that highly deterministic sentencing policies are not necessarily more successful at reducing unwarranted sentencing disparity.
Criminal justice, Administration of
Sentencing Guidelines, Sentencing
Date of Defense
April 1, 2005.
A Dissertation submitted to the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Marc Gertz, Professor Directing Dissertation; Charles Barrilleaux, Outside Committee Member; William Doerner, Committee Member; William Bales, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Crow, M. S. (2005). Florida's Evolving Sentencing Policy: An Analysis of the Impact of Sentencing Guidelines Transformations. Retrieved from http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_migr_etd-2995