A commission in Washington, D.C., has proposed voluntary sentencing guidelines for the capital’s trial courts. The recommendations, issued this week, are expected to be reviewed by the City Council next month and could be implemented by mid-year, says the Common Denominator newspaper.
They include guidelines to help judges decide whether to incarcerate felons and how long prison sentences should be. The proposal distinguishes between drug offenses and other felonies. “Two people who have committed similar crimes and have similar criminal histories should receive similar sentences,” said Kim Hunt, staff director of the project. “The purpose of the guidelines is to help direct the judge to find a range of typical sentences for a typical case.”
Hunt said the commission was directed in 2000 “to look at sentencing and make recommendations designed to deal with the problem of disparity.” If the council approves the new guidelines in early 2004, the commission expects to begin a pilot program for all felony cases that would extend for about 18 months.
A D.C. judge recently was criticized by citizen groups for putting on probation a burglar linked to 30 break-ins.