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Ryan Scott ('05) Cited in WSJ Article on Sentencing

NOVEMBER 6, 2009—Ryan W. Scott ('05) was quoted in a Nov. 5 Wall Street Journal article examining disparity in sentences for similar crimes.

The discrepancies are due in part, author Amir Efrati says, to a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing federal judges greater freedom to depart from sentencing guidelines than permitted by earlier federal provisions.

Scott, an associate professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, has been evaluating sentencing behavior by federal judges for a research paper entitled "In Search of the Booker Revolution."

The article quotes Scott as saying, "There is preliminary evidence of greater inconsistencies between judges, who have the freedom to draw upon their own political, policy, and punishment values when they make sentencing decisions."

In United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), the Supreme Court instructed federal district judges to refer to a wider range of sentencing factors than previously required by the federal sentencing guidelines. It also instructed federal appeals courts to assess criminal sentences for "reasonableness."

Researching sentencing patterns of individual judges is difficult because the Sentencing Commission does not release judges' names in case records. However, the District of Massachusetts makes sentencing documents publicly available, allowing Scott to analyze sentencing inclinations of 10 Boston judges in his research.

The article is available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125738940063830037.html.

Portrait of Ryan Scott

Ryan Scott ('05)
Photo by Ann Schertz