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Michael M. O’Hear, Localization and Transparency in Sentencing: Reflections on the New Early Disposition Departure, 27 Hamline L. Rev. 357 (2004)

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27 Hamline Law Review 357 (2004)


A newly authorized "early disposition departure" permits federal judges to reduce the sentences of criminal defendants who plead guilty quickly pursuant to a locally adopted early disposition program. The new departure mechanism provides the first formal mandate in the United States Sentencing Guidelines for "localization," that is, adjusting the sentences of federal defendants based on local circumstances. This paper provides a defense of localization, and suggests that localization may be reconciled with the Guidelines' overriding objective of transparency in sentencing. The early disposition departure provides a model of "transparent localization," but could be reformed so as to offer both transparency and more localization.

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