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Guidelines and Related Statutes

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The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing was created by the General Assembly in 1978 for the primary purpose of creating a consistent and rational statewide sentencing policy that would increase sentencing severity for serious crimes and promote fairer and more uniform sentencing practices. The legislation required the Commission to adopt sentencing guidelines that would be "…considered by the sentencing court in determining the appropriate sentence for defendants who plead guilty or nolo contendere to, or who were found guilty of, felonies and misdemeanors" (42 Pa.C.S. §2154). The guidelines were intended to promote sentencing equity and fairness by providing every judge with a common reference point for sentencing similar offenders convicted of similar crimes. Since 1986, the Commission has been designated a legislative service agency. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees have been designated as the standing committees to review regulations issued by the Commission.