CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bronsther on Vague Comparisons and Proportional Sentencing

Jacob Bronsther (Department of Law, London School of Economics & Political Science) has posted Vague Comparisons and Proportional Sentencing on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
“The small improvement problem” (“the Problem”) applies when no option in a comparison is best nor, it seems, are the options equal, because a small improvement to one would fail to make it the better choice. I argue that the Problem has only two causes: first, small improvements that are irrelevant to the comparison, such that the options are in fact equal, and, second, vagueness, such that the options are vaguely equal or vaguely “related.” I use this analysis to unpack an important instance of the Problem, the comparison between a crime and a punishment upon which the ideal of the proportional penal sentence is based, concluding that the comparison is too vague to provide meaningful sentencing guidance.

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