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Evidence-Based Sentencing: The Science of Sentencing Policy and Practice
Chapman Journal of Criminal Justice (2009)
  • Richard E. Redding
Sentencing is where much of the action is in criminal practice, particularly since ninety percent or more of cases never go to trial but are settled through plea bargains. Acting within the constraints of applicable presumptive or mandatory sentencing guidelines, probation officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges typically rely on their instincts and experience to fashion a sentence based upon the information available about the offense and offender. But relying upon gut instinct and experience is no longer sufficient. It may even be unethical – a kind of sentencing malpractice that produces sentencing recommendations and decisions that are neither transparent nor entirely rational. Rather, selecting the sentencing option(s) that will best reduce recidivism through deterrence, incapacitation, or rehabilitation is a scientific question that should be informed by the science of best practices – that is, “evidence-based practices.” This introductory article for the Chapman Journal of Criminal Justice’s Symposium Issue on Evidence-Based Sentencing, provides an overview of the scientific and legal issues underlying the evidence-based approach and an introduction to the articles in the symposium issue.
  • sentencing,
  • evidence-based,
  • risk assessment,
  • empirical,
  • recidivism
Publication Date
Citation Information
Richard E. Redding, Evidence-Based Sentencing: The Science of Sentencing Policy and Practice, 1 Chap. J. Crim. Just. 1 (2009). Available at: