Downward departures for serious violent offenders: Local court "corrections" to Pennsylvania's sentencing guidelines

John H. Kramer, Jeffery T. Ulmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

140 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examine downward departures for serious violent offenders, using quantitative and qualitative data from Pennsylvania. We find that offense severity and prior record have negative direct effects on downward departures, but a positive interaction effect on them. Offenders convicted of aggravated assault, those who plead guilty, young black women, and offenders sentenced in large urban courts are more likely to receive downward departures, whereas those convicted by trial, young Hispanic males, and offenders sentenced in small rural courts are less likely to receive them. We argue that downward departures represent local "corrections" to guideline recommendations when there is a mismatch between guidelines and local court actors' definitions of key focal concerns of sentencing for serious violent offenders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-932
Number of pages36
JournalCriminology
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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