Role of Previous Convictions: Representative Sentencing Frameworks
This chapter reviews some of the different ways in which criminal history information influences sentencing decisions. Particular attention is paid to England and Wales since this jurisdiction has undergone a significant revolution in recent years. The chapter then describes sentencing arrangements in a number of other common law jurisdictions, before concluding with illustrations of the recidivist sentencing premium in other countries. This selective review demonstrates that an offender's previous convictions are considered relevant to sentencing around the world, although the specific manner in which they are counted varies considerably. Two surveys, one conducted in the UK and the other in New Zealand, demonstrate that an offender's previous convictions are clearly a salient feature of the sentencing model to which most criminal justice professionals and sentencers subscribe. Many jurisdictions identify the issues of recency and relatedness, suggesting that previous convictions should weigh more heavily against the defendant when the priors are recent and similar to the current conviction.
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