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Reducing Disparity in Judicial Sentencing:- A Social-Psychological Approach

A Social-Psychological Approach


Siegfried L. Sporer

Researchers from diverse disciplines - e.g. sociologists, criminologists, political scientists, legal observers, and most recently also psychologists - have repeatedly observed that the unguided use of discretion has frequently led to vast disparity in judicial sentencing, i.e. large variations among sentences given for highly similar offenders and/or offenses. Employing a social-psychological perspective, this controlled experiment demonstrates the disparity reducing effect of discussion in sentencing councils. The report also critically analyzes the validity issues inherent in socialpsychological experimentation on legal decision-making.
Contents: Judicial sentencing - Sentencing disparity - Proposals for sentencing reform - Sentencing councils - Social-psychological analysis of judicial sentencing - Controlled laboratory experiment on sentencing councils and reduction of sentencing disparity - Validity issues in laboratory studies on legal decision-making.