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Sitting in Judgment: The Sentencing of White Collar Criminals

NCJ Number
S Wheeler; K Mann; A Sarat
Date Published
199 pages
Extensive interviews with 51 Federal judges in 7 districts formed the basis of an analysis of the beliefs and practices of Federal judges as they go about the task of sentencing white-collar criminals.
The interviews came mainly from three districts known to have a high proportion of white-collar crime prosecution: Manhattan, New York City; Chicago, and Los Angeles. Interviews were also conducted in Phoenix, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut. The analysis explores the information available to sentencing judges and how they work with it. It also considers the principles of harm, blameworthiness, and consequence that affect judges' decisions. In addition, it examines the conceptual problems that make it difficult to convert a basic agreement on principle into a system of consistent sentences. The analysis concludes that the judges' views reveal a kind of informal common law of sentencing, widely shared by different judges and based on historical principles of Anglo-American criminal jurisprudence. The authors also suggest that the sentencing guidelines set forth by the Federal Sentencing Commission should be tested against judges' own views and experience. Tables and index.