Since the advent of sentencing reforms in the United States, scholars have made inquiry regarding the effectiveness of reducing discretion and/or unwarranted disparity and increasing certainty of punishment. Sentencing guidelines have received the most scholarly attention. Recently, Johnson, Ulmer, and Kramer (2008) recently examine determinants of downward departure decisions. Recent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions – namely, Blakely v. Washington (2004) and U.S. v. Booker/Fanfan (2005) – have further put sentencing guidelines into question. The Court in Blakely found that judges cannot make an upward departure without a jury determination of the facts upon which this departure is based. The Court in U.S. v. Booker/Fanfan decided the same and took it a step further by making the guidelines voluntary, moving away from its presumptive nature. Previously, Iannacchione and Ball (2008) examined how Blakely impacted upward departure decisions. This paper makes a preliminary inquiry into the effect, if any, Blakely has on downward departure decisions.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jeremy_ball/3/