"Nothing" works: Sentencing "reform" in Canada and the United States

Michael Tonry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Anthony Doob has documented the evolution of knowledge about sentencing and sentencing policy in Canada since the 1970s, and the social, attitudinal, and psychological forces that influenced them. Except for the enactment, in 1996, of a statute specifying general purposes of sentencing and the enactment of mandatory minimum sentencing laws of limited scope, not much has happened in Canada. By contrast, enormous numbers of changes in law, policy, and practice have occurred in the United States, with mostly negative effects in terms of diminution of justice, crowded prisons, unprecedented imprisonment rates, and worsened racial disparities. Americans would have benefitted from something like Canadian inertia. Canadians have little that is positive and much that is negative to learn from the American sentencing reform experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-479
Number of pages15
JournalCanadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Anthony Doob
  • Canadian sentencing
  • Comparative sentencing
  • Jane Sprott
  • Sentencing reform

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