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Do Judges Follow Sentencing Recommendations, Or Do Recommendations Simply Reflect What Judges Want to Hear?: An Examination of One State Court

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime and Justice Volume: 33 Issue: 2 Dated: 2010 Pages: 127-151
Denise Leifker; Lisa L. Sample
Date Published
25 pages
This study explored the sentencing process through an investigation of the role probation officers' presentence investigation (PSI) recommendations play in sentence outcomes.
To date, few scholars have examined the role of the presentence investigation (PSI) report in sentencing decisions. This research explores the relationship between PSI recommendations and sentencing decisions through a primarily qualitative approach. Qualitative data from one small California jurisdiction in 2008 used to determine the degree to which judges follow PSI recommendations and whether recommendations are independent in nature or based on previously established "going rates" for crimes. Although there is very little research available on this topic, the data that are available do not delve into the relevance of the report and the degree to which recommendations are primarily ceremonial and essentially "predetermined" by other actors. Ultimately, this research is intended to shed further light on the sentencing process and provide clarity on the relative importance of PSI recommendations in sentencing decisions. Tables, references, and appendix (Published Abstract)