How a society punishes their criminals can say a lot about the way the citizens live their lives. Here in the United States we would rather take better care of someone in prison for life than a person on the street who has never committed a crime in their life.
The philosophy and practices has changed drastically in the last 30 years. Rehabilitation was the main focus for the beginning of the 20th century. This gave way to a new found focus on justice, and fairness in the 1970s. Crime control was the next practice of sentencing, this emphasized jail time as a way to reduce the crime in a community. During the 1980s-1990s this model of crime control was very popular. The emphasis on goals of the sentencing, and corrections policies, and practices can be characterized.
Sentencing has four major goals that are normally attributed to it: deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and retribution. Retribution is from the 21 centuries model of “just deserts.” The main idea is that if someone breaks the law they should be punished. The other three uses more emphasize on protecting the public. The way they go about is how they differ.
Deterrence focuses on the burdensome aspect of a punishment. This makes the offender think about what he or she is, has, or is about to do. This is to make a rational thought that the chance of getting caught is too high, not worth the risk. The idea is to make the person (specific deterrence) who may commit the crime so afraid of the punishment, and detour others (general deterrence) from committing the same crime.
Incapacitation is when a person is deprived the capacity to commit a crime due to the fact they are, well in prison. Next is rehabilitation. The goal here is to change the way an offender thinks, and acts so that they do not commit crimes any more. This is done by usually offering an education to an offender.
When all of this is combined, and put to work it creates a large work load for the corrections departments across the United States. Though not one of these works best for every prison, city, or inmate, but when combined can be a useful tool.
The corrections system takes a large blow depending on how a crime or offender is sentenced. With most jails, and prisons near, at, or over capacity they must take each sentence in to consideration. For retribution there can be very little impact on a large scale prison, but for a small town corrections department this can make an impact. When an offender is charged with a crime, and is sentenced with a form for retribution, community service for example. For every person that is sentenced in this way it takes more resources to complete the task for the corrections department.
If more offenders were sentenced to probation or parole the impact on the corrections system would be much less. This would defeat the purpose of the system many times. The idea behind the sentence is to get the criminal off the streets, and out of the community.
Rehabilitation is considered to be the only punishment that is a combination of the reduction of crime with the offender’s rights intact. Crime can be deterred by long prison terms, and capital punishment, rehabilitation will only work if the offender can re-enter the community or society. If this is not an option extreme punishments need not to be ruled out. If one is to favor a “right’s oriented rehabilitation,” this is to accept the criminal’s liability to receive punishment, but also assumes the right on his or her part to be able to return to society, and be a contributing member of a community.
This idea is often referred to as “state-obligated rehabilitation.” This meaning that if the right of the state is to punish, they also must be able to educate their prisoners. The idea is that no more harm comes than was intended at the time of the sentence.
One can go as far as to say that if the state or federal prison system does not provide a source of rehabilitation to the inmates it would be cruel and unusual punishment. If the goal is to rehabilitate the criminals, and one day have them back on the street as functioning members of a society that we want so badly to be safe, and secure then yes.
Prison should be a harsh environment, but at the same time a place where one can gain a new found appreciation for a hard work ethic or a basis education. Also along with this prison needs to be a place where an offender can look back, and be thankful for the time they spent their because of the education they received, but at the same time never want to return because it is such a horrible place.
According to “The Free Dictionary” (2013), “Determinate Sentence – A sentence to confinement for a fixed or minimum period that is specified by statute. Indeterminate Sentence – The prison term imposed after conviction for a crime which does not state a specific period of time or release date, but just a range of time, such as “five-to-ten years.”
My personal opinion is that indeterminate sentencing is a more appropriate approach to sentencing. For one there are so many variables that can go into a case that if a cookie cutter approach is tried to be used there will be several things over looked, and then many things over emphasized. The idea for a punishment to be passed down that is fair to the individual not the crime. Though I believe that some crimes should have a determinate sentence to them with an option of adjustment depending of the situation, but for the most part if someone breaks that law, no matter who, what, why, where, or when they get the same sentence.
An example According to “O’Mally Law Office” (2013), ”A man convicted of sexual assault on his maid had his sentence reduced from 28 years to life, to 8 years to life in an Arapahoe County, Colorado court recently. This story was reported in a CBS Denver 4 News release. Homaida Al-Turki, a Saudi-Arabia citizen, was accused and convicted on 12 counts of sexual assault related to keeping his maid as a sex slave in his Aurora, Colorado home.
The reduction in sentence was said to be ordered because Mr. Al-Turki, who was incarcerated at a Limon, Colorado facility for the past five years, displayed good behavior, and also due implications from a recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling in a case unrelated to Mr. Al-Turki. It is important to note that Mr. Al-Turki still faces an indeterminate sentence. Indeterminate sentencing in Colorado means that a defendant may be kept for his entire life, regardless of his minimum sentence.
So, the practice effect is that if the parole board desires to keep Mr. Al-Turki in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections forever, they can. In effect, the sentence reduction only impacts the minimum sentence this defendant must serve, not the maximum. Indeterminate sentences in Colorado only come into play with Colorado sex offenses. Whether it is Douglas County, Weld County, Larimer County or another Colorado County, indeterminate sentences are devastating.”
Courtney from Study Moose
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