Criminal Sentencing Essay
Once a person is convicted of a crime by a guilty plea, plea bargain, or jury verdict the sentencing takes place. A sentence is a decree of punishment. This punishment can be fines, incarceration in jain for short term and in prison for longer term, probation, payment of restitution to crime victim, community service or drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Not only will the severity of the crime determine the punishment but the sentencing judge usually will consider the defendants criminal history or lack thereof; the nature of the crime, the manner in which it was committed and the impact on the victims.
The judge will also take the defendants personal, economic, social circumstances and his/her regret or remorse expressed into consideration. There are many purposes of criminal sentencing. One is deterrence. The idea is to use punishment to worn the offender and other people of the consequence of such future criminal behavior. The punishment on the offender should deter others from committing a similar crime. This principle of deterrence is not usually applied when youth are sentenced in the youth jurisdiction.
There is also very little evidence showing this principle works. Although, when deterrence is used to deter the offender from committing the same or similar crime in the future it has more effectiveness. “Having a criminal justice system that imposes liability and punishment for violations deters. Allocation of police resources or the use of enforcement methods that dramatically increase the capture rate can deter”- Robinson and Darley Oxnard Journal of Legal Studies.
An individuals sentence has little deterrence on a general basis. Deterrence on a specific offender not offending again in the future is not completely successful also. Another purpose of criminal sentencing is rehabilitation. This is the hope that the punishment such as imprisonment reforms the criminal and leads them to a non-criminal way of life. This is considered an important element to be considered before and during the sentencing process. Rehabilitation is meant to address the underlying causes of criminal behavior.
The mission of the prisons is to protect society by confining offenders in a controlled environment that provide work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately, studies by the U. S. Department of Justice have shown over sixty-five percent of released inmates were rearrested within three years of their release date. These numbers continue to rise. This in my opinion seems to be that prisons are not a safe environment for rehabilitation but…… the opposite!
In some cases rehabilitation is more likely to be achieved outside of the prison system. Courts can consider delaying sentencing to allow time for rehabilitation prior to the sentencing process. Courts can give a certain amount of time to allow a defendant to demonstrate rehabilitation has taken place, or for participation in an intervention program. At the sentencing the punishment can be courses and counseling for drug and alcohol or anger management. The rehabilitation process seems to be more successful for first time offenders and non-violent offenders.
Incapacitation is making an individual incapable of committing a crime. In most cases this involves offenders who commit repeated crimes or in cases involving dangerous crimes and offender are likely to commit violent crimes again unless restrained. The reason for this punishment is that it gets criminals off the streets and protects the public. Incapacitation works as long as offenders remain locked up. In return, it reduces crime rates. The problem with incapacitation is that it is ver expensive. There are very high cost in building and operating prisons.
An example of incapacitation would be the three strikes laws, which imprison an offender for life on a third offense. This form of criminal sentencing is a success if reducing crime is the most important factor. Retribution is the act of punishment for wrongdoing. Retributivists aim to dispense punishment according blame worthiness. Its measured by the severity of the crime the offender was convicted. This falls in with the saying “an eye for an eye”. It is difficult to match punishment with crimes. There is no right way to morally measure the crime or the punishments painfulness.
The sentencing court will consider the degree of the seriousness of the offense along side all other relevant sentencing considerations. In conclusion, we have to have a system of justice for society, and a form of retribution is needed. The violent criminals should not be sentenced the same as the non-violent or the “small” crimes the same as the “large” crimes. Rehabilitation will be the most permanent fix in deterring crime, but there is the fact that some offenders can not be rehabilitated and will commit future crimes.
With this said, incarceration is some times needed. With the objective of criminal sentencing working together the system is effective. But, like most systems it has room for improvement.
Robinson and Darley Oxnard Journal of Legal Studies, Vol 24, no 2 (2004) St Amand, M. ,D. , & Zamble, E. (2001). Impact of information about sentencing decisions on public attitudes toward the criminal justice system. Law and Human Behavior, 25(5), 515-28. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/204148404? accountid=32521