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Copyright (c) 1988 The Regents of the University of California
UCLA Law Review

ARTICLE: The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984: A Practical Appraisal

October, 1988

36 UCLA L. Rev. 83


Stanley A. Weigel *



The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 1 is a chapter of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. 2 The latter more than merits the adjective "comprehensive." It constitutes a major overhaul of federal statutes dealing with crime. It is extremely long, covering scores of diverse subjects such as bail reform, runaway youth, terms of imprisonment and security for witnesses. 3

The Sentencing Reform Act is in itself both comprehensive and complex. Its provisions relate not only to sentencing but to such additional matters as presentence reports, criminal forfeiture, victims' rights, postsentence administration, duties of probation officers, civil remedies for satisfaction of unpaid fines, places of imprisonment, appellate review of sentences, and correction of sentences.

The intention of Congress was certainly noble. There is no basis for serious disagreement with the declared purposes of the statute in requiring sentencing courts to consider:
(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant;
(2) the need for the sentence imposed--
(A) to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense;
(B) to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct;
(C) to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and
(D) to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner. . . . 4

The Act establishes the United States Sentencing Commission as an "independent ...
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