Guidelines are not enough: The need for written sentencing opinions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Guideline sentencing systems, including the new federal guidelines, have not settled on a clear conception of when and how a trial judge should explain sentences. Indeterminate sentencing systems did not have a tradition of written sentencing decisions and recent sentencing reforms do not focus on the trial judge's role. This article suggests the many advantages of written sentencing opinions. Initial experience under the federal sentencing guidelines bolsters the conclusion that written sentencing opinions in appropriate cases—including both sentences “within” guidelines and guideline “departures”—are the next step in the evolving law of sentencing and the best way to recognize trial judges as an essential engine of principled change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalBehavioral Sciences & the Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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