Sentencing Posts

Can Federal Sentencing Remain Transparent?

Criminal trials have virtually disappeared in many federal courtrooms. According to a recent U.S. Sentencing Commission report, “[i]n recent years, 97 percent of federal defendants convicted of a felony or Class A misdemeanor offense are adjudicated guilty based on a guilty plea rather than on a verdict at a trial.”

The Model Penal Code Goes to Congress: Sentence Reduction for Compelling Reasons

The Model Penal Code: Sentencing (MPC) is not specifically designed or intended to influence sentencing in the federal system, although the MPC itself often reflects the influence of federal law. In one recent case, the influence of one upon the other appears mutual: an MPC provision modeled on a federal statute authorizing reduction of prison sentences may have been at least indirectly responsible for changing its federal model. The change at issue, discussed below, reinforces the fundamental tenet of the MPC that courts should have primary responsibility for determining sentences, as opposed to legislatures or corrections officials.

First Thoughts About ‘Second Look’ and Other Sentence Reduction Provisions of the Model Penal Code: Sentencing Revision


The financial cost of mass incarceration has prompted states to pass legislation providing for early release of prisoners. Although early release laws are frequently in tension with principles underlying sentencing systems, most have been passed without any discussion of how they might be justified in theory.

Modification of Long Term Prison Sentences

Below is the Black Letter from the Proposed Final Draft of Model Penal Code: Sentencing, which was approved at the 2017 Annual Meeting.  The project Reporters are now preparing the Institute’s official text for publication. The Reporters are authorized to correct and update citations and other references, to make editorial and stylistic improvements, and to implement any remaining substantive changes agreed to during discussion with the membership or by motions approved at the Annual Meetings. When published the Sections are being reorganized, Section 305.6 will become Section 11.02, and it will appear in an Appendix titled, “Principles for Legislations.”

Common Law: The Innocence Update


Common Law is a new podcast sponsored by UVA School of Law and hosted by Dean Risa Goluboff and Vice Dean Leslie Kendrick. In Episode One, best-selling author John Grisham and Deirdre Enright of the UVA Innocence Project discuss the many reasons for wrongful convictions, the future of criminal law, and delve into specifics of some the cases they’ve shined a light on.