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Although the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines have received much attention (and criticism), we do well to remember that the United States is a federal system, and that each of the fifty states has its own sentencing rules and procedures. Today, roughly half of the states have sentencing commissions that issue guidelines -which are generally similar to the federal guidelines in form but different in structure and content. This article examines the history and operation of sentencing in Washington state, an early leader in the development of sentencing guidelines in the United States.
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