The Alabama Sentencing Commission analyzed roughly 7,700 worksheets that judges used to sentence criminal defendants in 2009.
State judges must consider sentencing guidelines established in 2006 but they are not required to adhere to them.
The Mobile Press-Register reports that the study concluded judges followed the sentencing guidelines about half the time.
One-third of the sentences exceeded the guidelines and 2 percent were below those guidelines.
Bennet Wright, the commission's executive director, says the goal is for judges to adhere to Alabama's sentencing guidelines in three-quarters of criminal cases.
The guidelines were created in an attempt to eliminate disparities in prison sentences.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)