Wednesday, February 2, 2005
CrimProf Ronald F. Wright of Wake Forest has posted Sentencing Commissions as Provocateurs of Prosecutor Self-Regulation on SSRN. The article will be published in May in the Columbia Law Review. Here's the abstract:
This Article examines potential efforts
by sentencing commissions to influence the work of prosecutors,
especially the charges they select and the plea bargains they enter.
The practical objections to prosecutorial guidelines issuing from a
sentencing commission emphasize two problems: the linguistic
impossibility of creating meaningful guidelines and the political
impossibility of promulgating them. But experience in the states casts
doubt on each of these objections. Some states have codified
preexisting prosecutor guidelines, generated by prosecutors themselves,
while other states have prompted prosecutors to develop their own
Prompted self-regulation of prosecutors will prove most effective when the ambitions for guidelines are incremental and when the use of those guidelines is monitored from the outside. Working in tandem, commissions and courts can gradually shift back to prosecutors some of the regulatory burdens of producing uniform sentences, leaving more room for judges to dispense mercy. To reinforce this incremental development, the most important value that prosecutor guidelines should embody is transparency for defendants and for voters.
To obtain the article, click here. [Mark Godsey]