An Analysis of Scientific Sentencing and Its Impact on the Criminal Justice System

Isis N. Walton, Virginia State University

It is now a shared reality that the number of people under criminal justice regulation in this country has reached a record high. As a result, the sentencing policies driving that number, and the field of corrections, where the consequences are felt, have acquired unprecedented complexities. Although sentencing guidelines have introduced some uniformity int he way sentences have been handed out, the continuous implementation of these guidelines has led to a tremdous impact in the number of incarcerated individuals in the past ten (10) years. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the impact of science on sentencing and court proceedings. Additionally, this paper will delineate the use of systematic science in this phase of the criminal justie system to show how it has removed judicial discretion and consequently minimized the roles judges perform. Sentencing disparity has not been eliminated as a result of these guidelines. In fact, minorities now comprise sixty (60)% of all incarcerated individuals. One of the central questions to be asked; Are sentencing policies, as implemented through correctional practices, achieving their intended purposes?

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Updated 05/20/2006