This is an important, and infuriating issue.
] "The Supreme Court's decision to place this extraordinary
] power to sentence a person solely in the hands of a
] single federal judge - who is accountable to no one -
] flies in the face of the clear will of Congress," Mr.
] Feeney said in a statement.
1. In general, we have a problem, and we won't talk about it because its extremely unpopular to do so. The problem is that our democratically elected government is selected based on the whims of a fully and readily manipulated populace. More then half the people in this country think Sadam Hussien was connected with Al'Q. Do we think their opinions about crime are any more informed?
The "I'm gunna get tough on crime" story gets votes, and it is played entirely for marketing reasons. It has absolutely no relationship to a reasonable, considered view about how to actually lower crime rates. I'm not interested in having important matters of policy be constantly dominated by "what sells."
Congressmen refer to their democratic legitimacy because they can't refer to the credibility of their policies. Congress is a constant slew of bad ideas. I'd prefer to have certain questions be more isolated from the political process, particularly when lives are at stake.
2. Federal judges are certainly accountable for their decisions, which are vetted by several levels of hierarchy. People don't get to be federal justices because they fell out of bed this morning and figured they'd get into law.
3. No one knows more about the specifics of an individual case then the people who are handling it. Different cases have different specific circumstances and should result in different sentences.
] "We are disappointed that the decision made the guidelines
] advisory in nature," Assistant Attorney General Christopher
] A. Wray said in a statement. "District courts are still
] required to consult the federal sentencing guidelines, and
] any sentence may be appealed by either defense counsel or
] prosecutors on the grounds that it is unreasonable. To the
] extent that the guidelines are now advisory, however, the
] risk increases that sentences across the country will become
] wildly inconsistent."
I'd accuse Christopher Wray of intentionally lying, but thats what politicians do, isn't it?
What you want is consistency of standards. Two people who commit the same crime in the same circumstances should get the same sentence. You want to avoid favoritism or situations where different judges have wildly different approaches.
Wray isn't offering consistency of standards. He is offering consistency of results. Thats not the same thing. He offers one while complaining about the lack of the other. Consistency of result is unfair, because two people who commit the same crime in wildly different circumstances get the same sentence. Congressmen cannot fairly apply a blanket rule that impacts every case in the country.
Congressmen, as previously pointed out, don't even have experience with the subject matter. They are making their rules base on political fads and not based on a knowledge of how to address real problems.
If their is a problem with inconsistency of standards among judges it ought to be addressed by looking at the decision making process involved in sentencing and the selection process for judges rather then by creating a system that could as easily be operated by a computer as by a human.
As usual, you're not going to see that, because that would be reasonable. This isn't about reason. Its about power.
The New York Times - Reactions: New Fight Over Controlling Punishments Is Widely Seen