Reducing Federal Judicial Sentencing and Prosecuting Disparities:

A Systemwide Approach Needed

GGD-78-112: Published: Mar 19, 1979. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 1979.

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Despite considerable attention, differences in the treatment of offenders continue to be a problem throughout the Federal criminal justice system. Although some differences in treatment are necessary, other disparities create doubt about the fairness of the system. The most obvious occur at the time of prosecution and sentencing of defendants who have similar backgrounds and are accused of similar offenses.

The major reason differences occur is attributable to the limited information available to officials exercising discretion and to the lack of guidance and criteria for those officials to use when exercising discretion. All areas of the criminal justice system lack such guidance. Due to the lack of data reporting procedures and an effective reporting mechanism, only limited information is available for determining whether the types and length of sentences are adequate or whether statutes used in sentencing are appropriate.

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