The Law: Parsing Sentences

"The almost wholly unchecked and sweeping powers we give to judges in the fashioning of sentences are terrifying and intolerable for a society that professes devotion to the rule of law."

The observation might do credit to the most radical of ex-convicts and criminal lawyers. Instead, it is the product of thoughtful reflection by U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Frankel. After seven years on the federal bench in New York City, Frankel found himself appalled by "the unbridled power of the sentencers [including himself] to be arbitrary and discriminatory." He considered the problem in his off-the-bench time, then produced an informative monograph...

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