TAILIEUCHUNG - Gale Encyclopedia Of American Law 3Rd Edition Volume 9 P14

Gale Encyclopedia of American Law Volume 9 P14 fully illuminates today's leading cases, major statutes, legal terms and concepts, notable persons involved with the law, important documents and more. Legal issues are fully discussed in easy-to-understand language, including such high-profile topics as the Americans with Disabilities Act, capital punishment, domestic violence, gay and lesbian rights, physician-assisted suicide and thousands more. | 1 1 8 SENTENCING SENTENCING GUIDELINES FAIR OR UNFAIR Sentencing guideline systems for determining criminal sentences have dramatically changed the way punishment is meted out in . courtrooms. Twenty-two states and the federal government use sentencing guidelines which require a judge to calculate a criminal sentence using a mathematical formula. Points are assigned based on the defendant s offenses prior criminal record and other factors. A total is calculated and the sentence is computed. A judge has very little room to depart from the sentence mandated by the guidelines. There has been controversy over the fairness and the legitimacy of using sentencing guidelines with the most criticism directed at the . Sentencing Guidelines. The criticism comes mostly from defense attorneys and judges who argue that the guidelines give prosecutors too much power in the criminal justice system and give too little discretion to judges to shape a sentence to fit the individual defendant. Defenders of sentencing guidelines contend that they are a vast improvement over the way sentencing has traditionally been done eliminating judge shopping and the arbitrary and disparate sentencing practices that come with unbridled judicial discretion. Congress authorized the . Sentencing Guidelines in 1984. The . Sentencing Guidelines Commission a sevenmember panel appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate issued the first set of guidelines in 1987. The guidelines have been constantly changed mostly by the commission but also by congressional legislation. In addition Congress has exercised its veto power over amendments proposed by the commission. By 1996 the federal guidelines had grown to an 850-page manual containing complex formulas for computing different types of sentences. Proponents of federal sentencing guidelines believe that they reduce sentencing disparity and guarantee harsher punishment for federal felons many of whom are convicted for selling illegal .