What arguments can be made for and against the introduction of sentencing guidelines into the sentencing process for white collar offenders?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sentencing guidelines are good and bad, no matter what kind of criminal act is involved.  The argument for sentencing guidelines is that there is supposed to be a causal connection between the certainty of the punishment and the prevention of crime, that being what discourages people from committing crimes.  The argument against sentencing guidelines is that every case is different and that the judge or jury should have the discretion to take that into account when deciding on a sentence.  

Insofar as white collar crime is concerned, there are those who feel that there should be more discretion because no violent crime has been committed, and there are, of course, those who feel that there should be strict guidelines because even economic crimes should have sentencing that discourages others from committing these crimes.  And in fact, even though there is no direct violence in this kind of crime, there have been instances of white collar crime in which people's lives were irrevocably damaged, and people have even committed suicide.