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Title: The basis, development and potential of a computer system to assist with the sentencing of offenders.
Author: Bainbridge, David Ian.
Awarding Body: City of Birmingham Polytechnic
Current Institution: Birmingham City University
Date of Award: 1989
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Magistrates and judges have a substantial amount of discretion in their choice of sentence to impose on a convicted offender. The application of this discretion attracts a great deal of criticism and one of the more serious aspects is apparent disparity in sentencing patterns between courts, benches and sentencers. It was considered that it should be possible to develop a computer system which would assist magistrates with their decision as to which sentence to impose on a convicted offender by structuring the rules and norms applicable to sentencing and by providing information supporting and supplementing these, thereby improving the' quality of sentencing decision-making. This thesis describes the development of a computer-based system to assist with the sentencing of offenders. The computer system, called CASE, was constructed after an enquiry into the nature of the sentencing process in Magistrates' Courts, the implications of jurisprudence for such a system and the significance of developments in computer science, including expert systems. The CASE system was designed so as to represent existing sentenCing law and practice, giving a pragmatic flavour to the research. In particular, the sentencer's discretion is recognised by the computer system. As a consequence, the system is capable of application in actual sentencing decision-making. Interesting features of the CASE system include the identification, formalization and representation of legal rules and guidance to sentencers within a computer system. The computer system also contains a predictive model based on Bayesian statistics and derived from an analysis of data collected in a survey of actual sentencing decision-making in Magistrates' Courts. The CASE system is not an "expert system" in the true sense, although it does make use of "expert system" techniques. Rather, it is better to describe CASE as a "decision-support system". The potential for the system, in terms of practical use, was de~ermined by holding demonstrations in Magistrates' Coutts, after WhlCh questionnaires were completed by those attending.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law Law Law enforcement Prisons Computer software