Sentencing Proportionality in the States

It seems axiomatic in a “government of laws and not of men” that a sentence ought to be generally proportionate in degree to the underlying criminal offense. Extreme, disproportionate sentences undermine public confidence in the justice system, are ineffective deterrents to an angry public who perceive them as unjust, and fail to reform the criminal who can see no fairness in such an extreme sentence. This Note explores the principles and analytical tools several state judiciaries have employed to analyze the proportionality of sentences and concludes that these states have formulated a coherent and workable system of review that other jurisdictions can adopt through either legislative or judicial action.