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What 'rules' in sentencing? consistency and disparity in the absence of 'rules'

Tata, C. and Hutton, N. (1998) What 'rules' in sentencing? consistency and disparity in the absence of 'rules'. International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 26 (3). pp. 339-364. ISSN 0194-6595

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This paper considers critically the issue of consistency and disparity by examining sentencing in a jurisdiction, Scotland, which has few formal rules governing sentencing practice. First, it briefly outlines the main issues distinctive to the Scottish legal framework on sentencing and then propose reasons why interjudge sentencing disparity both might and might not be expected. It then proceeds to summarize the methodology and findings of a study, initiated by 10 individual sheriffs, to compare their custodial sentencing patterns. The implications of these findings for the roles of, nature of, and relationship between 'rules' and 'knowledge' in sentencing are discussed.