The legal definition of armed robbery, according to The Free Dictionary by Farlex is “The taking of money or goods in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, by force or intimidation.” (Free Dictionary, 2009) This is not to be confused with larceny. An armed robbery is defined when a person is made to feel fear or harm and then has personal property stolen. Larceny is a person who hasIt is the responsibility for members of the state legislature to thoroughly research whether a bill to double the maximum prison term for any person convicted of armed robbery will be an effective deterrent to future crimes. The data compiled will present the positive and negative aspects of the proposed bill. Therefore, the criminologist advisor will compile a study of the current laws, consequences, and data necessary to make a recommendation.
This author will be the criminologist advisor for the New Jersey state legislature member. As the state’s advisor, this author will present the prison term policy as it stands for armed robbery and the authors’ recommendation for the change; included will be the incorporation of the Three-Strikes Law to aid in the punishment stage.
In the state of New Jersey, the sentence for first degree armed robbery is 25 years in prison. “Each armed robbery conviction carries maximum statutory prison sentence of 25 years.” (2006) Pursuant to state law, the convict must serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence. For a 25 year sentence, this would be 21.25 years.
This author feels that if the convicted criminal has no regard for their victim, they should serve their term behind bars. In reality, if a person the age of 40 was sentenced to a term of 25 years, they would be 65 when they were released, if made to serve the entire term. However, if the same 40 year old person was sentenced to a term that had been doubled to 50 years, they would be 90 years old upon release, if they lived to that age. This would mean that tax payers would be forced to pay for this person to be in an already overcrowded prison for the remainder of their life. Most people are not going to want to do this, unless of course the crime led to a death in which case the criminal deserves to be in jail for the remainder of their life.
There is another point of view to consider when thinking about this type of crime. That would be the people who support a change in the laws to double the sentence of a convicted armed robber. If the sentence is 40 years normally and then doubled, it is safe to assume that the person will never see freedom again. In that case, there will be one less dangerous person on the streets who will be able to go out and commit another robbery, and possibly worse.
Three Strikes LawThe Three Strikes Law was originally passed in 1993. In the state of New Jersey, the bill was approved May 13, 1994. In fact, the bill was approved in a 35 – 0 vote. They were slightly behind on passing this bill but it is a good protection for citizens to have. “The crimes the bill covers are murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery and possession of a firearm, explosive or destructive device for an unlawful purpose.” (New York Time, 1994) The definition is life in prison for committing three violent crimes, such as murder, manslaughter or robbery. (‘Three strikes’ case, 2007) This is a great idea to keep repeat offenders locked up and off the streets.
It is a shame though, that a person has to keep committing crimes in order to be locked up permanently. In the case of someone committing armed robbery, there should not be a question of the punishment they deserve to get. When it is proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the person absolutely committed the crime they are accused of, they need to be punished accordingly. Then of course, when that said person gets released and goes out and commits more crimes, they do not deserve a break. When they go into a residence or business with a weapon, whether it is a gun, knife, pepper spray or something else, it is their intention to use force to get what they want. They intentionally want to scare the person or people they are going to rob, and if necessary, they will use physical force which can result in severe injury or even death.
This author is a supporter of the Three Strikes Law. She believes that people who do not want to follow the laws and try to make up their own deserve to be punished. She feels that each person has a right to feel safe in their own home or place of business and when someone comes in and tries to take away that feeling of safety, it can affect that person’s life. In the beginning of this paper, it was mentioned that there will be people who do not agree that they should be responsible to pay for a criminal to spend the rest of their life behind bars. The criminal will get a warm place to sleep, three meals a day, exercise, television, education and possibly work duty.
The possibility of armed robbers getting double the amount of time to spend in prison is good, but it may not always be a deterrent to other people who are thinking of committing that same crime, or who are currently career criminals. If a person is homeless and is robbing people by force to survive, it is quite possible that they know if they are caught, they will have a place to sleep out of the cold and rain or any other extreme weather. They will also know that they will get meals, which they may not get while living on the streets. It is the opinion of this author that while this law may deter some people from committing crimes, it will not deter everyone. Many criminals have the mindset that they are good at what they do and they will not get caught. Those are famous last words. No matter how good the person is at their crime, they will almost always be caught, regardless of the time line that passes between when they started their career and when they are finally brought to justice.
Some other issues that had been mentioned when New Jersey was first trying to pass the Three Strikes Law was the cost involved not only with repeat offenders going through a trial and then being jailed again, but also the cost of actually keeping them in prison. The other issue mentioned was the fact that the prisons are already bursting at the seams with inmates so the former Governor Christine T. Whitman wanted to make sure this bill would only apply to the most violent of crimes. (New York Times, 1994) The New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) houses approximately inmates in minimum, medium and maximum state prisons. The annual cost to house each inmate in 2006 was approximately $38,700 per year. This is more than many people make in a year. There were about 14,000 people incarcerated into the NJDOC in 2006 and that number was expected to rise by 1180 in 2007. In 2006, 14,000 inmates were released and it was expected that 1,180 would be released each month in 2007.
“The median term for NJDOC inmates is five years. Fifty percent of all NJDOC inmates are serving terms of one-to-five years; 16 percent are serving terms of six-to-nine years; and 34 percent are serving maximum sentences of 10 years or more.” (Department of Corrections)After a thorough review of all the information given in this paper, it is the recommendation of this author that the laws surrounding the violent crime of armed robbery be changed to doubling when convicted of the offense. A statement needs to be made to criminals that the State of New Jersey will not condone violent criminal offenders and will punish them to the fullest extent of the law. These offenders should know that no matter where they go or what they do, their crimes will not go unnoticed and they will be caught and prosecuted.
In closing, it is the hope of the author that all members of the State of New Jersey legislation will regard the seriousness of the crime of armed robbery and will take into consideration the information that has been presented and vote in favor of passing this law along side of the passing of the bill of the Three Strikes Law.
Career Criminal Bank Robber Gets 90 Years in Federal Prison (2006) retrieved on March 22, 2009 from http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nj/press/files/giub1002_r.htmThe Free Dictionary by Farlex (2009) retrieved on March 22, 2009 from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/armed+robberyCoscarelli, K. (25 October, 2007) NJ top court to decide ‘three strikes’ case retrieved on March 22, 2009 from http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2007/10/nj_top_court_to_decide_three_s.htmlGray, J. (Ed.). (1994). New Jersey Senate Approves Bill To Jail 3-Time Criminals for Life. New York: The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009, from http://www.nytimes.com/1994/05/13/us/new-jersey-senate-approves-bill-to-jail-3-time-criminals-for-life.html?sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1New Jersey Department of Corrections (1999 – 2009) retrieved on March 23, 2009 from http://www.nj.gov/corrections/freqntlyasked.html