More federal judges are giving themselves wiggle room when it comes to once-strict sentencing guidelines, as evidenced by three recent high-profile court cases. The three—involving Conrad Black, Michael Vick, and a crack cocaine case that made it to the Supreme Court—illustrate how a spate of high-court rulings have given judges more leeway, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The trend is expected to decrease the average sentence; courts have shown themselves 10 times more likely to lighten than to lengthen sentences when departing from the guidelines. "Will we see a very severe federal system going soft?" asked one expert. "I don't think so. It's a loosening, but not all reins coming off."