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May 25, 2008

Japanese working on IT approach to sentencing consistency

This fascinating article from Japan indicates that the land that brought us the tech genius that is Super Mario Galaxy is trying a tech approach to sentencing consistency:

Ahead of the introduction of the lay judge system, which will start in May 2009, the Supreme Court set up in April a database in which sentences handed down in past cases can be looked up using key words.  Under the lay judge system, the opinion of members of the public will be reflected not only on the question of guilt, but also on the severity of sentences.

To avoid major sentencing discrepancies for similar cases, the Supreme Court has created a database of past criminal case rulings and developed a search system, providing lay judges with a means to refer to past cases.  The Supreme Court has set up terminals linked to the database at district courts and their branches nationwide. 

Under the system, a judge handing down a ruling in a case subject to the lay judge system will be able to enter information on the relevant case in more than 10 categories, such as the crime committed, the weapon used, the harm caused to the victim, whether there were accomplices, the extent to which the suspect expressed regret and the emotional aggrievement of the victim.

Currently, the details of more than 100 cases have been collected so far, and information on more than 3,000 cases is expected to have been inputted by May 2009. By entering several search terms on the terminal, it is possible to call up a list of sentences imposed in similar cases.  For example, in the case of a street robbery resulting in injury, if a user enters the key words "street" and "robbery," a list of similar cases will appear on the terminal....

By looking through such a list, lay judges can easily compare the impact each kind of situation has had on sentencing. The sentences of similar cases in the past can also be presented in graphic form as a bar chart.  Under the lay judge system, professional judges will print out such lists or charts and show them to lay judges, while the legal teams of both sides also will be allowed to use the search system, according to the Supreme Court.

May 25, 2008 at 04:05 PM | Permalink


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(all sarcasm)
If this system is brought to the U.S. its going to need a race category for the offender and the victim.

That way there is no excuse for a bleeding heart liberal judge to go easy on a african american criminal get a light sentence for attacking a blue eyed blond caucasian girl.

Posted by: Mark | May 26, 2008 10:44:21 AM

Sentencing policy meets Godzilla. Yikes.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 27, 2008 8:39:09 AM

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