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Probation Officers' Recommendations and Final Sentencing Outcomes

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime and Justice Volume: 34 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2011 Pages: 45-61
Tina L. Freiburger; Carly M. Hilinski
Date Published
March 2011
17 pages
This study investigated the effect of various factors on probation officers' recommendations, and whether the recommnedations determined sentencing outcomes.
Using the focal concerns perspective, the current study examines the factors that affect probation officers' recommendations and the effect these recommendations have on final sentencing decisions. Results indicate that there is a high level of agreement between probation officers' recommendations and final sentencing decisions. When judges depart from recommendations, departures are most often upward, with judges sentencing defendants to a harsher penalty. Although it was predicted that the variables that construct the perceptual shorthand would have a greater influence on judges' decisions than on probation officers' recommendations, this was only partially supported by the findings. Final sentence outcomes appeared to be more directly influenced by race than the probation officers' recommendations. Instead of having a direct effect, race affected probation officers' recommendations through income and education. The implications of these findings are further discussed. (Published Abstract)