Sentencing Guidelines Resource Center
Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice


Guidelines & Commissions

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Handcuffs Unlocked
The Importance of Case Law

In addition to the guidelines themselves, case law helps to inform our understanding of how the guidelines work in a particular jurisdiction.  “Case law” is law that is derived from the decisions issued by judges in the cases before them in court.  Case law adds to our understanding of the guidel

American Sentencing Guidelines Reforms: Learning from Experience

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Juvenile Jail
The Role of Sentencing Commissions

The role of Sentencing Commissions varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, as do their goals, structure, and responsibilities.

Lady Justice
Varying Binding Effects of Guidelines -- the Mandatory-to-Advisory Continuum
Some guidelines are mandatory unless there are grounds for departure. Other guidelines are only advisory; judges must consider but need not follow them. Each of these system types has variations, yielding a continuum not a dichotomy.
Criminal History
Why Have U.S. State and Federal Jurisdictions Enacted Sentencing Guidelines?
The primary goals of the earliest sentencing guidelines reforms were to reduce sentencing disparity by limiting judicial and parole discretion, and to promote more rational and informed sentencing policy developed by a sentencing commission. In later years guidelines have frequently been enacted to serve additional important goals, especially better management of correctional resources.
Court Room
What is Blakely and Why is it so Important?
Blakely v. Washington was a case decided by the Supreme Court in 2004. The case addressed the application of the sentencing guidelines in Washington, but the impact of the decision was to call into doubt the validity of all guidelines systems.