Sentencing Paper Essay

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Sentencing Paper

Sentencing Paper

September 30, 2013

Sentencing Paper
Earlier responses to crime were to be brutal, which included torture, humiliation, mutilation, and branding. These kinds of punishments often attempted to relate the punishment to the crime, as close as possible. The first response to crime incorporated linking criminal acts to sin and developing strict punishments. Throughout the years, this thought process has changed into a more humane system. The reason for corrections to is to protect the society but also to provide rehabilitation to these individuals. Punishments for criminals now include main objectives that widely differ from the first believed aspects of punishments. Punishments now embrace objectives pertaining to deterrence, incarceration, rehabilitation, retribution and restitution. Deterrence focuses on the possible future actions of an individual instead of present criminal behavior.

Deterrence is a goal that is used to avoid impending crimes from occurring. It is believed that if punishments are rendered, it would prevent that individual from committing future crimes and it would deter others from engaging in illegal behavior. When the person who committed the crime receives a punishment, it is known as specific deterrence. The idea behind specific deterrence is that the punishment would prevent any more crimes from that specific person in the future. General deterrence is where punishments are given to people committing crimes so that criminal behavior from the rest of the society would be discouraged. This theory does not always prove correct because majority of criminals feel they will not get caught. Retribution is another term for someone receiving punishment for their illegal acts, which inflicts punishment on those people who deserve it. Retribution is similar to the phrase “an eye for an eye”. Retribution is closely linked to criminal violation but also seeks to deter crime and provide rehabilitation.

Retribution focuses on the crime committed, and for the society’s sake, make sure that someone is punished for the crime committed. Incarceration is holding people who violate the law in a specific area that is away from the rest of society. Corrections main goal is to protect the society and incarceration is the way to keep criminals away from everyone else. Incarceration, or incapacitation, is meant to reduce the capability of committing future crimes. Incapacitation is centered on the basis that people will continuously repeat offending behavior. Selective incapacitation is where a criminal that is viewed as a career criminal receives a longer sentence so that they are not able to commit any more crimes. Rehabilitation is used as a way to prevent further criminal activity by taking away the urge to engage in crimes. Rehabilitation is meant to take individuals back to their previous life before they began committing crimes but this is not always beneficial. Corrections aim to rehabilitate by removing the compulsion to further commit criminal behavior.

Psychological counseling is offered as a rehabilitation source as well as programs that will help them avoid problems that will persuade them to commit another crime. These programs are generally used to help the inmates with making the correct decisions and leading a respectable life. Lastly is restitution. Restitution, which is the least known goal, is “repaying society or victims for the wrongs created by offenders (Seiter, 2011 pg. 33)”. In the twentieth century, chain gangs were considered a method of restitution but the principle of restoration has become more important and many criminal sentences contain the opportunity for restitution. Victims used to be forgotten when it came to criminal matters whereas they were only required to give a statement. They were not kept up-to-date with the trial and no damages were sought to be resolved until the victims’ movement. This movement became very popular in the 1980s and adjustments were made to include victims. Victims were notified of parole possibilities and things occurring in the trial.

The objective of punishment the most important is incarceration. Incarceration takes the criminal away from society to protect society. Without incarceration criminals would have access to society and would continue to commit crimes. If an offender is in prison they cannot continue to commit crimes and an executed criminal will never commit a crime again (Seiter, R., 2011). Rehabilitation is also just as important. Providing inmates with new skills can allow them the opportunities they never had before and can reduce recidivism. Educating the inmates gives them the opportunity to find a job to become financially successful. Some experts believe that the money spent on incarceration should be invested into literacy programs to reduce the rates. Educating the population will allow them the knowledge to make better choices. I do not believe you can have incarceration without rehabilitation. If incarceration worked alone there would be fewer criminals and that is not the case (Henry, Ph.D., 2003). Sentencing has an enormous impact on state and federal correctional systems. In the United States the number of criminals incarcerated in state and federal correctional systems has grown massively over the past several years.

The number of those incarcerated has the greatest effect on state and federal correction systems. From 1930 to 1975 the average incarceration rate was 106 inmates per 100,000 adults in the population (Mackenzie, 2001). These numbers remained relatively stable until after 1975 (Mackenzie, 2001). By 1985 the rates were 202 per 100,000. By 1995 it was 411 and by 1997 it was 652 including local jail populations (Mackenzie, 2001). At the end of 1998 more than 1.3 million prisoners were under Federal or State jurisdiction (Mackenzie, 2001).

Determinate sentencing is “a sentence to confinement for a fixed or minimum period specified by statute. This includes sentencing guidelines, mandatory minimum sentences, and enhanced sentences for certain crimes. Sentencing guidelines allow judges to consider the individual circumstances of the case when determining a sentence, whereas mandatory minimum and enhanced-sentence statutes leave little or no discretion to judges in setting the terms of a sentence. This type of sentencing became popular in the 1980s, when public concern over crime increased radically and the public demanded stringent laws to address the crime problem” (Determinate sentence, 2013). Another type of determinate sentence that has been popular since the 1990s is the “three strikes-and-you’re-out” law, which mandates a heavy sentence for anyone who is convicted of a third felony.

Those in favor of the three strikes law determine that it is not important “the severity of the third crime, but what is important” (Determinate sentence, 2013) is that this law shows a pattern of continual misconduct by the offender. Therefore, the system looks at this offender as person not able to abide by the laws and regulations established by the justice system. According to Determinate Prison Sentencing (2012), “The license will include conditions.

If an offender breaches their conditions, they may be sent back to prison.” (Determinate prison sentences) According to “Indeterminate Prison Sentence” (2012), “An indeterminate prison sentence is where the court sets the minimum term of imprisonment an offender must serve before becoming eligible to be considered for release by the Parole Board” (Indeterminate prison sentences). According to “Indeterminate Prison Sentence” (2012), “There are two types of indeterminate sentence: 1)Imprisonment for life – (called custody for life for an offender aged between 18 and 21) 2)Imprisonment for public protection (IPP) – (called detention for public protection for an offender aged between 18 and 21)” (Indeterminate prison sentences). According to “Indeterminate Prison Sentence” (2012), “If an offender serving an IPP is released, they will be subject to an IPP license. They may be recalled to prison if at any point they are considered a risk to the public” (Indeterminate prison sentences). I believe both types of sentencing is a benefit for the corrections system. They both offer the opportunity to the offender to be released early before completing their full sentences and both give the offender to show if they can live like a law-abiding citizen.

I specifically favor the three strikes law. Not only does it help keep criminals locked up for a very long time or for life, it also shows the pattern of misconduct an individual continues to have and how this offender cannot abide by the laws established by the state. In conclusion, punishment for particular crimes have been around for years but have changed drastically. Punishment used to be meant for humiliation and torture but now, the objectives for punishment include keeping the public safe from criminals and rehabilitating them. As discovered, the most important objective is incapacitation because prisons keep criminals away from the rest of society which helps protect the other members of the community. Sentencing has two forms which are both a benefit to the inmate. It helps rehabilitate them and transport them back into the community as a law abiding citizen.

References (2005). Determinate Sentencing. Retrieved from
Portman, J. (n.d). Indeterminate vs Determinate Prison Sentences Explained. Retrieved from Seiter, R. P. (2011). Corrections: An Introduction (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Sentencing Council. (2012). Indeterminate prison sentencing. Retrieved from

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