Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Sentencing Guidelines

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Sentencing guidelines are a set of standards designed to establish rational and consistent sentencing practices within a particular jurisdiction.  All guidelines systems structure judicial sentencing decisions and most systems also regulate the duration of prison terms, but some systems retain a parole board that decides on the timing of release from prison.  Systems also differ as to whether recommended guidelines sentences are legally binding on judges, or are largely or entirely advisory.  At present 20 U.S. states and federal jurisdictions have some form of guidelines, and in twelve of these jurisdictions the guidelines have been in effect for over 25 years. 

Read the Sentencing Guidelines Overview

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Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
Email: robina@umn.edu · Tel: 612-626-6600