Discreet discretion and moderate moderation in judicial sentencing: A commentary on Kenya’s Sentencing Policy Guidelines, 2016
Harrison Otieno, Mbori
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Criminal sentencing is an integral part in in any judicial system for the fair administration of justice. The process of sentencing and the standards applied by judicial officers has, however, been a notoriously difficult component in many criminal law systems. In Kenya, sentencing has been blamed as one of the sources of ‘popular dissatisfaction with the ad- ministration of justice’ to borrow from Roscoe Pound. This was the impetus for the Ken- yan Judiciary to introduce the Sentencing Policy Guidelines, 2016 (SPGs). This paper is a general commentary, critique, and analysis of the SPGs. The author argues that SPGs come at an instructive epoch in Kenya’s economic, socio-political, and cultural development. This contribution is not a polemic on the Kenyan SPGs. The commentary makes side- glances to various jurisdictions that have had a longer experience with sentencing guidelines. The article forecasts that Kenyan SPGs will, despite its few shortcomings, nevertheless, prove to be important for all judicial officers involved in Kenya’s criminal justice system.