Coherence and the Tariff

  • Austin Lovegrove
Part of the Research in Criminology book series (RESEARCH CRIM.)


The analysis to this point has dealt with the scaling of offense seriousness. As a consequence of this work there is now a model of judicial sentencing behavior that specifies how judges scale the relationship between seriousness and the objective levels of each offense factor, the relative weight of each factor, and the rule for aggregating the decisions on each of these components. Now it is possible to determine the relative overall offense seriousness of various patterns of offending. Clearly, this construction of seriousness is of minimal practical assistance to judges in their task of sentencing unless it is related to the quantum of sentence. The task of this chapter is to prepare the way for that final step. At the outset, however, the scope of the chapter should be delimited. Of concern here is the tariff sentence—a sentence in which the quantum of sentence is made proportional to the seriousness of the offense and in regard to an offender’s plea in mitigation and prior convictions. The notion of proportionality implies monotonicity—mutual increase (or decrease) in values on both dimensions—but not necessarily a direct relationship. Indeed, the totality principle (Thomas, 1979) provides that after a certain level of seriousness is reached, the rate of increase in the quantum of sentence should decrease with further increases in case seriousness.


Criminal History Coherency Analysis Prior Conviction Holistic Assessment Offense Characteristic 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Austin Lovegrove
    • 1
  1. 1.Criminology DepartmentUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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