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date: 24 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article outlines the history and evolution of Pennsylvania’s sentencing policies and practices since the adoption of its sentencing guidelines in 1978. Pennsylvania’s sentencing practices have many features in common with other states, such as mandatory minimum sentences and intermediate punishment; however, the system also has some unique features, such as having two independent parole processes for county and state inmates and not awarding a “good time” reduction for state inmates. Major recent developments include the adoption of a sentencing risk assessment and the nullification of many of the state’s mandatory minimum laws. Pennsylvania remains one of the most studied states in sentencing research. Major empirical research on sentencing and incarceration patterns, disparity, and effects of policy changes is summarized.

Keywords: sentencing guidelines, sentencing policy, mandatory minimum laws, incarceration, Pennsylvania, risk assessment, intermediate punishment, disparity

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