The desirability and constitutionality of discretionary criminal sentencing can be ascertained only if the factors influencing sentencing decisions are known. The authors analyze data generated by a 1971 survey of Washington State superior court trial judges in order to identify the significant factors and to evaluate their relative importance in criminal sentencing. The results indicate that discretionary sentencing is influenced strongly by social biases in no way dependent upon the culpability of the offender, his personal behavior patterns, or circumstances of the crime.
Barbara L. Johnston, Nicholas P. Miller, Ronald Schoenberg & Laurence R. Weatherly,
Discretion in Felony Sentencing—A Study of Influencing Factors,
48 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol48/iss4/9