Sentencing refers to a sanction or punishment imposed for the conviction of a criminal act. Sentencing decisions are generally made by the presiding judge and can take place in federal, state, or local courts. There are typically two types of sentences that can be imposed: custodial and noncustodial sentences. Each type of sentence can vary greatly, depending on many legal and extralegal factors. Since the 1970s, guidelines and reforms have been implemented to reduce judicial discretion and disparities in sentencing. This entry focuses on sentencing in the United States.

Sentencing Philosophies

Many common philosophies exist regarding the purpose of sentencing an individual for a crime that he or she committed. These philosophies range from attempting to change the behavior of the specific criminal before and after ...

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