« Split DC Circuit says federal judges cannot increase a prison sentence for rehabilitative reasons | Main | Should having multiple sclerosis be a viable defense to a local pot charge? »

July 30, 2009

"Legitimizing Local Variations in the Federal Sentencing System"

The title of this post is the title of this effective new piece on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This Essay attempts to provide an all-things-considered approach to justifying local sentencing variations in the federal system.  Instead of trying to eliminate those disparities, this Essay contends that the federal sentencing system should embrace regional variations to increase the moral credibility of the system at the local level.  To do this, it argues for the creation of regional sentencing commissions (one for each federal circuit), which would promulgate their own, regional sentencing guidelines.  By premising each set of guidelines on Professor Paul H. Robinson’s distributive principle of empirical desert, which is informed by lay intuitions of justice, the federal system would be made to respond to community norms and conditions, thereby increasing local credibility.

July 30, 2009 at 09:45 AM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Legitimizing Local Variations in the Federal Sentencing System":


Just what we need, more bureaucrats. And if such regional sentencing counsels were created, I don't see them following lines other than existing federal court circuits.

I fail to see how creating a set of guidelines for the 9th circuit would add any local legitimacy that the single set of guidelines don't possess. Perhaps smaller circuits with just a few states are more uniform, but even that I'm not sure of. The pockets that would matter for this sort of legitimacy would just be very small.

I tend to think that regionalism of this sort is much more fluid. People close to each other but across state lines are likely to be more culturally similar to each other than either group is to groups in some other part of each respective state.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 30, 2009 12:00:27 PM

Such a hare-brained idea will do nothing to "increase moral credibility at the local level"

Posted by: mjs | Jul 30, 2009 7:38:11 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB