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Sentencing Guidelines and Penal Aims in Minnesota

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Ethics Volume: 13 Issue: 1 Dated: (Winter/Spring 1994) Pages: 39-49
A Von Hirsch
Date Published
11 pages
Sentencing guidelines in Minnesota are assessed from two perspectives, that of a modified just deserts rationale and that of limiting retributivism.
In Minnesota's sentencing process, offense scores are used to calculate the severity of the current conviction offense. The criminal history score reflects the number and seriousness of prior convictions. A dispositional line distinguishes presumptive sentences to State prison from lesser sanctions, and numbers above the dispositional line represent normally prescribed State prison term ranges. Departures from the sentencing guidelines are permitted based on aggravating or mitigating circumstances. These circumstances are just deserts-oriented since they refer primarily to matters affecting the harm associated with or culpability of criminal conduct. Although Minnesota's original sentencing guidelines had several just deserts features, certain provisions of the sentencing guidelines can be described in terms of the limiting retributivism rationale. Case law jurisprudence regarding departures from sentencing guidelines is discussed. A model is proposed to minimize sentence disparity that focuses on presumptive penalty ranges, offense seriousness, imprisonment only for serious criminal conduct, and just deserts-based mitigation. 45 notes and 2 figures


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