Visible and invisible sentencing

Hutton, Neil; Hondeghem, Annie and Rousseaux, Xavier and Schoenaers, Frédéric, eds. (2016) Visible and invisible sentencing. In: Modernization of the Criminal Justice Chain and the Judicial System. Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice, 50 . Springer London, Cham, pp. 145-158. ISBN 9783319258003 (

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This chapter develops a conceptual approach which understands sentencing as a collective practice which is generated by a number of actors, not only judges. Sentencing is seen as a series of decision making practices which are made visible in publicly available accounts. This way of seeing sentencing has significant implications for understanding conventional accounts of discretion. This chapter argues that discretion is best understood as a mode of justification based on trust in the invisible work of actors. Sentencing guidelines add a more visible, rule –based form of accountability which does not replace discretion but works alongside it as a complementary mode of justification.