, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 251-293
Date: 15 Aug 2012

The cultural limits on uniformity and formalism in the German penal code

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The defense attorneys who come [here] from other areas [of the country] would say that our sentences are too harsh. . . When I [sitting as a judge] asked a prosecutor why he was recommending such a strict sentence, he told me that he had a strict father. His father told him that if you want to be a good person, you have to work hard. . . It was his strict upbringing.

Judge Interview [5CK], May 4, 2006. In order to protect the anonymity of my interview subjects, I use numerical and alphabetic codes to identify interview sources.

Here, in this large city, we dismiss many cases that would proceed to trial in a mid-size city that is located a mere 30 km from here. It is a question of resources.

General Prosecutor Interview [16PP], April 30, 2008.

There are relationships between the police, prosecutors, and judges. . [T]he history of sentencing establishes a certain culture in a state. This culture is also influenced by political factors. For example, the political culture in Bavaria is extreme