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Book reviews

16 October 17

Review of Criminal Sentencing as Practical Wisdom (Brown)

by Frank Crowe (review editor: David J Dickson)

Criminal Sentencing as Practical Wisdom

Graeme Brown

PUBLISHER: BLOOMSBURY
ISBN: 978-1509902613
PRICE: £79.99

Dr Brown’s doctoral thesis has received prompt and deserved publication, as this insightful book is built on unrivalled access to 25 Scottish judges at both High Court and shrieval level who discuss their approaches to sentencing. The Scottish Sentencing Council hopes to publish sentencing guidelines soon, but much is left to the individual sentencer. In eight chapters the writer discusses whether sentencing is an art or a craft, whether it is a skill which comes naturally or through experience and training, the use of discretion versus guidelines, discounting sentences for early pleas of guilty, and consistency.

The writer explains all of these concepts clearly, quoting liberally from comments. It is a very timely work as the process and practice of sentencing is set to change, with greater use of guidelines and reference to guidance from the Scottish Sentencing Council and its equivalent in England and other jurisdictions. The book is a useful snapshot of how different judges tackled sentencing before these changes and enables practitioners to see the criteria deployed by sentencers to determine whether an accused should be sent to jail or given a community sentence. In many cases it was the interaction between the accused’s past record and the gravity of the offence which was the clincher.

This is a worthwhile book for both academics and practitioners, since there is plenty of content to satisfy these normally diverse interests.

Sheriff F R Crowe

 

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