Review White-Collar, Child-Porn Sentencing, N.Y. Times Says

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Sentencing for white-collar and child pornography offenses “has largely lost its moorings,” says to the Justice Department, which makes a strong case that the matter should be re-examined by the United States Sentencing Commission, editorializes the New York Times. The 2005 Supreme Court decision making sentencing guidelines advisory, the Times says, “was a smart move away from the rigidity demanded by many lawmakers, balancing judicial discretion with a ‘reasonableness’ test to be applied by appellate courts.”

Now the Justice Department says something appears to be wrong in the sentencing guidelines for white-collar fraud cases and child exploitation crimes, including pornography, where outcomes vary widely from judge to judge. The key, says the newspaper, is helping judges find ways to differentiate the worst offenders from those who caused less damage or are less of a threat to society. White-collar sentences are based on the size of the fraud, but that may not be the best way to measure the role of a defendant or the venality and damage involved.

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