Sentencing guidelines are established to develop some sort of uniformity and consistency in the sentencing of offenders that are convicted of the same or similar charges in the court system. Factors determining sentencing and the guidelines include severity of the charge, the criminal history of the offender, and other circumstances. Periodically, sentencing guidelines are changed in federal and state courts. State-level changes included the adoption of sentencing guidelines, determinate sentencing structures, mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, habitual offender laws, and truth-in-sentencing laws (Blackwell, B., Holleran, D., & Finn, M. , 2008). Although sentencing guidelines allow judges to depart from them, sentencing guideline changes can limit judicial discretion. Guidelines can cause administration to have to sentence to a certain minimum, that wasn’t set before. Also, there may be a certain maximum time that an offender may serve. A few years ago, one of my nephews was released early from a federal prison because of some sort of new drug law. I never understood how that worked because I thought that if someone was already sentenced, their sentence was exactly what it was and could not be changed, unless of course they won an appeal.
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