Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Sentencing Reform Act 1984
Stephen Vancee & Todd Bussert
The passage of the Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) of 1984, which mandated the creation of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and led to the adoption of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, marked a fundamental change in the federal government's approach to crime and criminal justice policy. The bipartisan initiative prospectively ended the use of indeterminate sentencing and parole release within the federal system and has substantially influenced the method and mode of prosecution, defense and, ultimately, punishment for those charged with federal crimes. From the early 20th century until roughly 1970, the federal sentencing system, like that of virtually all states, followed an indeterminate model that was ostensibly structured around offender rehabilitation. Congress established statutory penalties for criminal offenses with wide sentencing ranges that afforded judges substantial discretion to impose what they deemed appropriate punishments accounting for the unique nature of an individual defendant, the particular circumstances surrounding the offenses, and other ...