Criminal sentencing is a quite visible and very important stage of the criminal justice process. Due partly to its visibility and to its potentially devastating impact on individuals and communities, there is more interest now than ever before in how we sentence and punish criminal offenders. The development and implementation of various legislative initiatives (e.g., sentencing guidelines/grids and mandatory minimums) are evidence of the public's and policymaker's distrust of criminal justice authorities' ability to appropriately and fairly sentence criminal offenders. This book presents a comprehensive analysis of the sentencing of convicted felony defendants across large, urban counties in the United States. Three different sentencing outcomes are examined and particular focus is placed on the importance of contextual influences on sentencing outcomes for individual offenders--along with defendant and case/legal characteristics. This analysis helps shed light on the factors that influence sentencing decisions and broadens our understanding of sentencing to include defendant, case/offense, and community characteristics.
Dr. Noelle E. Fearn received her Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Missouri - St. Louis and is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Saint Louis University. Her criminological research has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed outlets.