In the remarks that follow, I do four things. First, for those unfamiliar with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, I begin by explaining briefly how the Guidelines work. Second, I endeavor to show why Judge Cabranes is wrong, absolutely wrong in declaring the Guidelines a failure, and mostly wrong in the specific criticisms he and others level against the Guidelines. Third, after jousting with Judge Cabranes a bit, I discuss some problems with the current federal sentencing system, most notably the sheer length of narcotics sentences. Finally, I comment briefly on some of the implications of the Guidelines, and the principles which undergird them, for broader questions of crime control and social policy.
Frank O. Bowman III, The Quality of Mercy Must Be Restrained, and Other Lessons in Learning to Love the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, 1996 Wis. L. Rev. 679 (1996)