A Plea For Congressional Restraint
Many fear that Congress will react to the Supreme Court's Booker decision by enacting new sentencing legislation that will further restrict a judge's ability to tailor a sentence to the unique circumstances of each case. Fortunately, commentators are asking Congress to take a deep breath before enacting draconian measures that might include even harsher mandatory minimum sentences. Joining that chorus of voices is federal district Judge Myron Thompson, who urges Congress to resist the temptation to legislate a "harsh and unforgiving legal system."
[W]e should keep in mind one basic principle: neither consistency nor codification guarantees justice. While few if any are calling for a return to the practically unfettered discretion that judges had before the sentencing guidelines came into effect, the nuances of individual cases necessitate a certain fluidity in imposing punishment. Congress should seek to shape judicial discretion, not to lock it in a vise.
As Judge Thompson wisely reminds us, "punishment cannot be reduced to an algorithm."
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