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SECOND CIRCUIT SENTENCING STUDY - A REPORT TO THE JUDGES OF THE SECOND CIRCUIT

NCJ Number
15058
Author(s)
A PARTRIDGE; W B ELDRIDGE
Date Published
1974
Length
156 pages
Annotation
RESULTS OF AN EXPERIMENT IN WHICH 50 JUDGES SENTENCED, ON THE BASIS OF STANDARD PRE-SENTENCE REPORTS, 30 DEFENDANTS WITH AN ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTING DISPARITY.
Abstract
THIS DOCUMENT IS A REPORT OF A SENTENCING EXPERIMENT CARRIED OUT BY THE DISTRICT JUDGES OF THE FEDERAL COURTS IN THE SECOND CIRCUIT. IN THE EXPERIMENT, EACH OF FIFTY DISTRICT JUDGES RENDERED HYPOTHETICAL SENTENCES ON TWENTY PRESENTENCE REPORTS SELECTED TO REPRESENT THE SENTENCING BUSINESS OF THE CIRCUIT, AND ON TEN OTHERS SELECTED TO TEST FOR CASE CHARACTERISTICS THAT MIGHT EXPLAIN DISPARITY. THEY RENDERED ROUGHLY AS MANY SENTENCES AS THEY NORMALLY DO IN HALF A YEAR. THIS REPORT ANALYZES THE SENTENCES THEY RETURNED. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS ARE, (1) THERE ARE SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCES IN THE SENTENCES RENDERED BY DISTRICT JUDGES ON THE BASIS OF THE SAME INFORMATION, (2) THESE DIFFERENCES OCCUR WITHIN SINGLE JUDICIAL DISTRICTS AND ARE NOT PRIMARILY A RESULT OF DIFFERENCES AMONG DISTRICTS, (3) THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT EXPERIENCE ON THE BENCH TENDS TO REDUCE THE RANGE OF DISAGREEMENT, AND (4) THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE JUDGES ARE SOMETIMES SEVERE RELATIVE TO THEIR COLLEAGUES AND SOMETIMES LENIENT, WITH THE RESULT THAT THE DISPARITY IN THEIR SENTENCES WOULD NOT BE SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED IF THE CONSISTENTLY SEVERE AND CONSISTENTLY LENIENT JUDGES WERE EXCLUDED FROM CONSIDERATION. ALTHOUGH THE EXPERIMENTAL ENVIRONMENT DIFFERS FROM THE COURTROOM IN A NUMBER OF WAYS, THE DISPARITY FOUND IN THE EXPERIMENT IS A REASONABLY GOOD APPROXIMATION OF WHAT HAPPENS IN THE COURTROOMS OF THE CIRCUIT. DETAILED STATISTICAL INFORMATION ON THE SENTENCES IMPOSED IN EACH OF THE THIRTY HYPOTHETICAL CASES IS PRESENTED IN THREE APPENDIXES AND MANY TABULAR DISPLAYS.(SNI ABSTRACT)