Sentencing Guidelines and Judicial Discretion: Balancing Deterrence and Retribution

  • Thomas J. MiceliEmail author


This chapter examines the interplay between legislatures, which enact sentencing guidelines ex ante, and judges (courts), which implement actual sentences ex post, subject to legislative guidelines. The hypothesis is that legislatures pay at least some attention to the goal of deterrence and so tend to enact tough-on-crime policies as signals to would-be offenders that law-breaking will result in harsh punishment. In contrast, judges confront actual offenders after the fact and so are more inclined to impose what they perceive to be “fair” punishments based on the circumstances of the case, subject to any binding constraints imposed by the legislature. The theme of the chapter is that the interplay between legislatures and judges reflects an evolving balance between the competing goals of deterrence and retribution.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ConnecticutStorrs MansfieldUSA

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