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Florida's Sentencing Guidelines - Progression or Regression?

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 49 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1985) Pages: 25-32
D B Griswold
Date Published
8 pages
After briefly describing the development of Florida's sentencing guidelines, this article critiques the method for developing the guidelines, sentencing factors and their weightings, and the implementation of the guidelines.
Florida's statewide guidelines, completed in July 1983, are reflective of factors influencing past sentencing patterns. Rather than grouping offenses according to seriousness, nine categories of offenses were created based on the similarity of offenses in each category. Although the guidelines limit judicial discretion that can produce sentencing disparity, they essentially maintain the status quo of sentencing patterns. The rationale of the sentencing guidelines, although not explicitly stated, apparently is incapacitation, since offenders with lengthy criminal histories (regardless of the severity of the history) receive increasingly lengthy prison sentences. Uniformity in applying the guidelines is a problem due to the varying accuracy and completeness of the criminal records of those being sentenced. Further difficulties in uniformly applying the guidelines are likely to occur because of the structuring of the sentences. Overall, the guidelines do not promote sentencing offenders according to the severity of the instant offense; thus, they tend to enlarge the prison population with offenders who have lengthy criminal histories that may not be composed of serious crimes. The guidelines do not facilitate restricting imprisonment to serious offenders. Illustrative figures and 74 footnotes are provided.