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Diane Publishing Books
Not Ordinarily Relevant?: Considering the Defendants’ Children at Sentencing: A Reprint from “Federal Probation”
Eleanor L. Bush (au)
The U.S. Sentencing Comm.’s initial guidelines became effective in Nov. 1987. Ch. 5H of the guidelines sets forth the Comm.’s initial assessments of a list of offender characteristics. In a series of non-binding, advisory policy statements the Comm. declares each specific offender characteristic, other than those related to the defendant’s criminal history or role in the offense, “not ordinarily relevant in determining whether a sentence should be outside the guidelines.” Even before judges, prosecutors, & defense attorneys began to apply the guidelines, experience suggested that judges would find each of these characteristics relevant in some of their decisions. It seemed likely that in some cases, consideration of offender characteristics would lead judges to depart from the guidelines. Without further gudance from the Sentencing Comm., Fed. judges bear the burden of determining the principles that should govern when & how to consider offender characteristics in sentencing. This article focuses on one offender characteristic, the existence of a defendant’s dependent children, as an illustration of the ways in which a flexible sentencing system can address discrete offender characteristics in a principled & consistent manner. Illus.
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