Prerequisites: Criminal Law
Exam Type: No Exam
This seminar will examine the law, underlying policy, history, philosophy, and administration of criminal sentencing. It will focus on the shared and intertwined powers and responsibilities of legislators, prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers, probation and pretrial officers, treatment providers, law enforcement, victims, sentencing commissions, and the community on sentencing outcomes. The course will explore the foundational role of the criminal code in sentencing and how different forms of statutory crimes and sentencing guidelines impact the sentencing process and the distribution of sentencing power. Students will learn the basic elements of the federal sentencing guidelines, apply those elements to various fact patterns, and prepare a sentencing memorandum for at least one of them. The course will also explore the issues of prosecutorial and judicial discretion, plea-bargaining, mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, truth-in-sentencing, racial, ethnic and gender disparities in sentencing, and recent congressional and state efforts to reform sentencing.