Examining Federal Sentencing Guidelines In The 1800s Criminology Essay

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The decision for sentencing began far back as the 1800's, criminal justice professional once believe in rehabilitation rather than punishment. It was the belief that criminals were acceptable to rehabilitation, once the review of the defendant life experience and if there were any extenuating circumstance that could affect any possibility of given them rehabilitation. Within this particular system judges from states, federal, once had the discretion to take into account the defendant's character, their background and of course the type of crime that the defendant committee, the judges have in their discretion to impost some sort of sentence.

Since that time Congress, needed to construct some sort of uniformity within the sentencing systems. Congress first enacted the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, (SRA) (P.L. No. 98-473, 98 Stat. 1987) then they enacted the Sentencing Guidelines (United States Sentencing Commission, 2010) that many in the judicial community have criticized for not allowing any sentencing discretion.

Because the system became full of disparity and inequity, Congress again enacted an amendment that was attached to the Prosecutorial Remedies and Tools Against the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003 (PROTECTION Act) called the Feeney Amendment (Title IV of S. 151, Public law 108-21), this was to address the "perceived " inadequacies of the federal sentencing system.

While there are not any explicit language in the United States Constitution that are exclusive for jurisdiction, the federal sentencing regarding for the Legislative Branch, that has the power to define federal crimes and degree and method of punishment. The Judicial Branch imposes the punishment of the offenses that set the limited by the legislature, and the Executive Branch decides where the offenders will be housed, when they are released and how they would be supervised, if necessary.

Opening statement

For the past 100 years, the federal government's system for sentencing criminals was determined by the courts. The courts had the discretion of decisions in regard to the offenders, where they would be incarcerated, the length of their incarceration and any additional punishment, from imposing fines to probation. The system allowed the offenders, depending on the crime that was committed to have the opportunity to return to society, either by probation or parole, and they would be under the authority of a probation or parole officer. ( need the source of information)

The system allowed the offenders depending on the crime that was committed to have the opportunity to return to society, either by probation or parole, and they would be under the authority of a probation or parole officer. The variations of discretion that was allowed by the sentencing official, led to serious discrepancy in sentencing among States and the Federal criminal justice system. Due to the seriousness of the disparity in sentencing, it was determined by Congress that there need to be a new system put in place. Congress in 1958, (85th United States Congress, 1957-1959), remove the discretionary system and created and implemented a judicial system, that was to formulated new standard in sentencing.

Fifteen year later in 1973, the sentencing system that was in place was failing, until the United States Parole Board established customary range of guidelines for confinement. Congress in 1976 (94th United States Congress, 1975-1977) endorsed the customary range guidelines through the Parole Commission and Reorganization Act of 1975, what is now known at the Board of Parole,(United State Department of Justice, 1997) this act by Congress would allow the Parole Commission a modern role in the sentencing system for individual judges. This new system will allowed judges to continue to sentences, but now Congress has implemented statutory sentencing range.

Again, 1986 Congress enacted the Anti Drug Abuse Act, (P.L. 99-570, and 100 Stat. 3207) to reinstate mandatory sentences for drug possession. With this particular act it created the distinction between offenders for simple possession of crack cocaine compare to offender of simple possession of powder cocaine. Until the recent passing of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, that is to reduce the sentencing disparity among races,

Background of the study

There has been numerous researches on the topic of racial and ethnical discrimination in sentencing defendants on drug charges. The purpose of the research is to conduct a comparative analysis between the drug policy in sentencing of the old the drug policy ratio and the new policy ration, systematic review of the literature regarding the relationship in sentencing using a quantitative method. Previous studies have product different findings. Therefore, this research will address the question, is there unwarranted racial/ethnic in sentencing, why the decision of mandatory sentencing, the inconsistence of sentencing, and the inconsistency in the finding of the research.

Summary of the literature framing history of the project, using 5 articles related to the problem

Gaps and/or deficiencies in prior research

There has been limited research on why the decision and the

impact of race and ethnic; of non-violent drug users among African Americans, Hispanics and White that have led to the wide gap in sentencing disparity. The dramatically racial disparity in sentencing for non violence offenders, involving crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine that has led many minorities being subjected to longer penalties that is set forth in the sentencing guidelines and how there isn't any uniformity for similar charges for similar offenses. Combine with the history of racial discrimination associated with drug laws long history of racism in the United States.

The "war on drugs" in American enacted these federal and states polices that are of one mind set, and the devastating impact of these policies in the minority communities.

In Wisconsin, (Mayrace, 2007) African American drug offenders are incarcerated 59 percent higher than Whites, and Hispanic offender are incarcerated 53 percent higher than Whites. In Illinois (Lurigio, A.,J., Harkenrider, M., & Loose, P.,2005) African American were 50 percent more likely to be sentenced to prison and 30 percent for Hispanic and 15 percent for White and Minnesota (Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission 2005), 65% of drug offender were white and 24% were blacks.

Importance of present study

Why the study should be pursued

For whom is it important

Problem statement

Research design (experimental, quasi-experimental, or non-experimental)

Theory tested or described


This research will look at a comparative analysis in the decision of the racial and ethnic disparity in the drug policy among the states and federal sentencing guidelines between crack and powder cocaine. Racial discrimination in sentencing in the United States today is no more shocking that it was 30 years ago, but as much as some situation has improved, unfortunately racial discriminatory sentencing among minorities today is far more insidious and more obvious, than it have been in the past.

Variables (independent, dependent, controlling, intervening)

Research question(s) and hypotheses

Research question(s)

Null and alternative hypotheses for each research question, including how each of the variables will be operationalized

Nature of the study


Paradigm (quantitative)


Experimental, quasi-experimental, or pre/non-experimental

Specific design (e.g., pre-post test control group, time-series, etc. See Campbell & Stanley 1963.)

Rationale for the design




Size, if known, or approximate/estimated size


Type of sampling

How the sample will be drawn

Sample size and why chosen in relation to population size

Instrumentation and materials

Identify instrument

Establish reliability

Establish validity

Data analysis plan: indicate what analytical tools will be applied to each set of data collected.


Potential design and/or methodological weaknesses of the study

Explain how the weaknesses will be addressed

Threats to validity and how they will be potentially addressed in the study

Ethical Concerns

Describe your proposed procedure for providing informed consent and any ethical concerns you may need to address.

Significance of the study

Practical contributions of the study

For whom the study is important

Implications for social change

Statement of Purpose:


There are hundreds of studies and each study observed the difference in sentencing by race, criminal history, and the serious of the offense, economic status


1 = African American vs. white

2 = Hispanic/Latino vs. white

3 = Native American vs. white

4 = Asian vs. white


1= Non Violent

2= Simple Possession

3= Intent to distribute

1= Crack

2=Cocaine Powder

3= Marijuana

4= Meth

Region of Jurisdiction

Midwest States (i.e. IA, IL, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, SD, WI)

Type of Sentencing Decision

1= Length of Incarceration

2= Probation

3= Both