Sentencing Guidelines:

Potential Impact on the Federal Criminal Justice System

GGD-87-111: Published: Sep 10, 1987. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1987.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement and a congressional request, GAO reviewed the United States Sentencing Commission's proposed sentencing guidelines for the federal criminal justice system and examined the reason why the Commission requested a 9-month delay in their implementation.

GAO found that: (1) the Commission believes that, although the federal prison population will increase over the next 10 to 15 years, its proposed sentencing guidelines will generate a small increase in the overall population; (2) the 9-month delay in implementation of the guidelines was to enable the Commission to adequately field test them and provide proper training to court-related personnel; and (3) witnesses at a hearing on the constitutionality of the guidelines believed that they would be challenged. GAO also found that: (1) it could not determine actual growth or the guidelines' contribution to that growth; and (2) although the guidelines will result in increased work loads, their full impact will not be clear until they are implemented.

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