The Methodological Challenges of Comparative Sentencing Research : Literature Review

Gormley, Jay and Roberts, Julian and Pina-Sánchez, Jose and Tata, Cyrus and Navarro, Ana (2022) The Methodological Challenges of Comparative Sentencing Research : Literature Review. Scottish Sentencing Council, Edinburgh.

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The Scottish Sentencing Council commissioned the University of Strathclyde in November 2021 to examine methodological issues in comparative sentencing research. The research team, led by Prof Cyrus Tata (University of Strathclyde), was asked to review and report on the evidence on the issues in comparing sentences 'across jurisdictions and modalities.' This report addresses questions arising in relation to any comparison of sanctions across jurisdictions. Ultimately, the goal is to contribute not only to more evidence-based guideline development, but to improve knowledge about the opportunities and challenges involved in making valid inter-jurisdictional comparisons and how this can facilitate greater public understanding and confidence in sentencing. While this report covers key issues and highlight relevant research, comparative sentencing is a vast topic. Therefore, our scope here must be focused. To do this we primarily draw on a single comparative jurisdiction with Scotland: England and Wales. It should be noted that there are other jurisdictions where useful comparative insights might be sought. However, each new comparator requires careful consideration of its distinct features.Moreover, in some cases, there will be greater differences in legal structures that render comparisons even more challenging.