Judicial districts do make a difference. They do in sentencing; and they do when it comes to a supervised release violation. This article examines the extent and unevenness. We compare and contrast sentences for supervised release violations in two judicial districts in the Ninth Circuit: Arizona and California Northern. Although in the same circuit, the two districts approach hand down dissimilar punishments. The article examines the differences across race and gender and type of offense. Across the board, sentences not only are more severe in Arizona than California Northern, they also skew higher for certain offenders and genders. A close scrutiny of the results reveals the variabilities that can vanish in broad data collections of national averages. In a dialogue format, two practitioners in the federal defender offices discuss the differences and offer explanations. Such differences result from distinct approaches to supervised release violations: punishment versus rehabilitation. The differences may also arise from types of cases, number of matters, and use of supervised release as a deterrence. The discussion illustrates the more severe sentences with a close scrutiny of the statistics. The conclusion is inescapable: the culture and practice of the district determines outcomes.
A Tale of Two Districts: Supervised Release in the District of Arizona and the Northern District of California
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Elisse Larouche, Jon M. Sands, August Sommerfeld; A Tale of Two Districts: Supervised Release in the District of Arizona and the Northern District of California. Federal Sentencing Reporter 1 June 2022; 34 (5): 301–309. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fsr.2022.34.5.301
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