The Apex Court of Michigan recently ruled that judges will now have greater power and flexibility to determine the length of the sentence. The matter was taken before the bench of the Supreme Court of Michigan in connection with a case from Oakland County. Hitherto, judges were required to mandatorily consider offense variables (OV) when deciding on the duration of the prison term.
This meant that the convict was not just being punished based on the gravity of the crime he had committed but also other factors that were not linked to evidence facts. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that this violated the Sixth Amendment rights of defendants.
The logic behind the legislation!
The offense variable was determined based on a background report compiled by law enforcement and judicial agencies. It took into account the criminal history of the convict, the nature of past crimes, the life he/she has led since the last conviction or after release from a correctional center, family relations and more.
All of this information was used to gauge whether the convict should be treated as a habitual offender who is likely to go back to a life of crime after serving the sentence, in which case the minimum prison term would be longer. The legislation was enacted to ensure that sentence disparity would be kept to a minimum.
All those in favor!
Some attorney’s believe that the transition back to the old system of sentencing that existed before the OV legislation will ensure that convicts are treated fairly and punished for the charges that they have been convicted for and not their past.
Will things really change?
Judges will still be allowed to use the OV report but it will no longer be mandatory to rely on OV to determine the minimum sentencing range. In fact, many are skeptical that judges will actually use the discretionary powers they have been given.