There is currently a bill in the legislature that would double the maximum prison term for anyone convicted of armed robbery. As a criminologist advisor to a state legislator, I have been tasked with proposing a recommendation on whether or not the current bill on the table will be good for the government and the communities it represents or detrimental. The proposed bill would double the current maximum prison term for any individual convicted of armed robbery. The thought behind such a bill is that a longer prison term will deter people from even attempting, or committing a crime in the first place. This bill would also, in hopes, keep offenders from re-offending for the same crime. As a result of these hopes, the bill has gained much popularity within the legislature. As appealing as the possible resulting lower crime rates sound, there are certain costs that must be considered.
The bill proposes longer prison terms for offenders. These longer terms will also come with a higher price tag. The cost of keeping inmates for a longer period will rise exponentially. Another cost, though not monetary, should also be considered; that is the risk of even more violent crimes being committed. If the prison terms for armed robbery were to be doubled and is close to that of the crime of attempted murder, what’s to say an offender would not go all the way if the sentence would be virtually the same? There may be possible solutions for the bill that can be appealing to both the government and the community. The first would be to increase the maximum term served before parole could be offered.
For example, instead of a ten-year sentence, with parole after three years; increase it to six or seven years before parole can even be considered. Another option would be to put in place a work program within the prison system. This will be somewhat similar to the outside world, in that if the prisoner does not work, they will not eat or receive rec time. We do not get handed a meal simply because it is supper time. If we don’t work, we don’t eat. Same premise for prisoners. It is my recommendation that the bill not be approved as it stands but that it is rewritten to reflect changes to the current prison terms. The prison term does not need to be lengthened, but the offenders do need to be made to serve more of their current term before coming up for parole.
It is my opinion, and based on crime rates that offenders are often not rehabilitated in such a short period, time, term in prison, and often get paroled and re-offend. This is an endless cycle. If terms were lengthened, it would cost more to house and feed a prisoner, but the costs would outweigh that of releasing them, having them reoffend, costs of trial and a second prison term. Also, the implementation of the work program would help them to realize that prison is not just a free ride, with meals and rec time without hard work and consequences. The parole system must also be overhauled. Parole officers often cannot keep good track of their parolees, and offenders receive too many chances.
Perhaps, requiring prisoners to learn a trade would be equally helpful to them outside of prison. The proposed bill for doubling the maximum prison term should not be approved. It cannot succeed as it is. Simply doubling a prison term without further consequences will be a hindrance to the justice system as a whole. A crime is a crime, and an offenders background should not be taken into account. Instead of threatening offenders with a longer possible sentence, change the current rules and statutes for prison terms.
Make them serve the majority of their sentence, make them work for basic needs in prison, and educate them. Give them a skill, so that the possibility of reoffending goes down. As popular as the bill may seem, it does not mean that it is the right choice for the government or the communities it represents. All of the options must be considered and weighed carefully before a decision can be made. Instead of creating new laws, perhaps we should first look at ways to enhance and make the current ones better. Only then, can we hope to move forward and create a better nation.
South, T. (2010, June 8). Bill would keep armed robbers in prison longer. Retrieved from timesfreepress.com: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2010/jun/08/bill-would-keep-armed-robbers-in-prison-longer/ What are positives & negatives to maximum prison sentences? (2011). Retrieved from Yahoo Answers:
https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index Would doubling the maximum prison term for anyone convicted of armed robbery be a good idea or a bad one, why? (2007). Retrieved from Yahoo Answers: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index