A new report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission revealed that sentencing for individuals who have committed the same crimes can greatly vary between federal district judges, according to a VICE News article.
Judges in the same city may issue sentences that vary as much as 63 percent. For the most part, judges are tending to give out shorter sentences.
The discretion of sentencing has been returned to the judges since federal statutes with mandatory sentencing guidelines were gutted in part by the key 2005 Supreme Court decision, U.S. v. Booker (530 US 220), according to the report.
The Booker decision gave judges the discretion to issue sentences that are harsher or more lenient than the guidelines.
The report stated there are still federal guidelines, which reform advocates say are overly harsh, but the Booker decision meant
judges have significantly more discretion to depart or vary from the guidelines and select a sentence outside the range from the guidelines.
According to the Booker decision, the guidelines still serve as “a meaningful benchmark” for judges in federal courts.
“Certain judges are the ‘hang ‘em high’ type, and others are the ‘cry me a river type’,” said Doug Berman, a sentencing law expert and professor at Ohio State University’s School of Law.