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.
The Robina Institute’s Sentencing Guidelines Resource Center provides information and downloadable materials related to American sentencing guidelines systems. This includes current versions of the guidelines in each jurisdiction; materials produced by sentencing guidelines commissions (training manuals, worksheets, reports, meeting summaries, and more); guidelines enabling laws and other important sentencing-related statutes; summaries of important interpretive case law; in-depth information about sentencing guidelines and commissions; and detailed profiles of each guidelines system that allow for cross-jurisdictional comparisons.