chapter  31
Computer-assisted sentencing
ByMartin Wasik
Pages 15

Sentencing guidelines are issued by the Sentencing Council, and this chapter considers one example of a sentencing guideline. It also considers various forms of computer-assisted sentencing. The chapter also considers the potential usefulness of expert systems in the context of sentencing. The Law Commission is currently working on a project to gather all sentencing legislation into a single sentencing statute. Sentencing information systems are designed simply to provide data about sentencing outcomes in a range of past cases. Legal information retrieval systems are uncontroversial, and very widely used by practitioners, including judges. The fundamental form of every expert system in law is that of a decision tree, which operates on an 'if this, then that' sequential logic. Whatever technical problems there might be in developing such a system in this area, it seems that the development of sentencing guidelines since 2000 has to a large extent removed the need for generic expert systems in sentencing.