The population in the United States prisons is currently soaring. Many argue that the quality of life in prison is more likely to have a greater impact on the prisoners and criminal behavior than the death penalty. Deciding methods of fixing bad behavior has been a discussion since the beginning of time. There are two types of correctional methods that are often used, punishment and rehabilitation. “Punishment is defined as a penalty that is imposed on an individual for doing something wrong.
The term rehabilitation is defined as a way to help somebody to return to good health or a normal life by providing training or therapy,”(ALER 2002) In the following the paper I will discuss the four philosophical reasons for sentencing criminals, and go over the six forms of punishment. This paper also goes over the relationship between punishments and sentencing in today’s courts and discusses a few recommendations for how to modify the sentencing process to reduce recidivism rates.
Many question, if the punishment model really deter prisoners from wanting to go back to prison. Often the judge is looks at how serious the crime committed by the offender was, age, prior criminal record and other circumstances surrounding the crime before determining the sentencing or punishment through the court system. Sentencing is an important aspect in the criminal justice process. It is the punishment defendants receive when they are convicted of a crime. The punishment spectrum is wide and vast, ranging from probation to death. After carefully considering the four philosophical reasons;
Retribution is the philosophy that a criminal’s punishment shall be determined on the severity of the crime he or she committed. Deterrence philosophy has two parts to it, which are the general and specific deterrence. The Deterrence philosophy is based on the fact that a criminal will realize the punishment outweighs the crime that he or she is going to commit. Deterrence is the goal of sentencing, deterrence seeks to inhibit criminal behavior thoughts for the fear of the punishment to follow. This philosophy hopes to prevent the criminal from going through with the criminal act. The specific deterrence is based on the theory that a criminal, once punished and released, will not want to commit another crime and receive the same punishment.
Rehabilitation is the attempt to reform a criminal offender, this is the state that the offender is said to be after being incarcerated, being incarcerated is said to be the most humane punishment. Rehabilitation is another means of trying to reduce criminal activity. Rehabilitation will teach a person not to commit further criminal acts and restoration is the goal of criminal sentencing that attempts to make the victim whole again. It depends on the criminal offense against the offender that determines the punishment. Restoration is to get the offender to where they can live a life on their own. Basically get them to where they can live in the world on their own without committing crimes.
There are many forms of punishment. The justice system has a wide range of ways to punish or sentence someone. There are misdemeanors that need punishment and then there are felonies. Punishment and sentencing depends on the crime and the judge that is doing the sentencing. In The Limits of Criminal Sanction, Herbert Packer said that criminal punishment should serve two purposes; “deserved infliction of suffering on evil doers” and “the prevention of crime” (Stravinskas,2009 pp. 36-37). The six main forms of punishment include intensive supervision (Probation, parole, house arrest), incarceration, rehabilitation (drug rehab, counseling, etc.), restitution and fines, capital punishment, and alternative punishments (community service).
When the crime committed is less serious the judge may use restorative justice to provide a remedy. “At the heart of restorative justice is the apology. So, for example, a judge in Texas required a teenager who had vandalized thirteen schools to go to each school and apologize to the students and faculty.”(Mika, 2004) If fines are payable to the government or a crime was committed such has hitting a telephone pole and not having insurance on your vehicle the judge may issue the offender to pay restitution which is a direct payment to the victim or victims of a crime or possibly community service which is “good work” done around the community like cleaning up the highways.
When a judge makes an offender pay fines it could be addition to incarceration and probation or independently of other forms of punishment. If a judge only makes the offender pay a fine it normally means the judge does not feel the offender is a threat to the community. Probation is when the offender needs to be watched closes but is still allowed to live in the community. Alternative sanctions combine probation with other dispositions such as electronic monitoring, house arrest, boot camps, and shock incarceration.
When the judge orders imprisonment whether for retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, or rehabilitation the offender is then not living in the community and is in prison or jail depending how long the sentence was. Capital punishment is for the most serious crimes committed. It is for those who commit murder under aggravated circumstances; this punishment could be the death penalty.
The American criminal justice system is composed of many dedicated processes to all types of crimes. Those who have been found guilty in a court of law must rely on the type of sentence they have received, and it is an integral part of the system. One major purpose of sentencing criminals is to provide justice to society. Others also believe that the system provides the aspect of the saying, “an eye for an eye.” Criminal justice is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, and sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts. Sentencing is an important aspect in the criminal justice process. It is the punishment defendants receive when they are convicted of a crime.
The factors are many that are taken into consideration before the judge can impose a sentence on an individual that has been convicted of a crime. The judge will receive this information in the form of a pre-sentence report. The pre-sentence report will contain the information detailing the financial status, educational background, criminal history and other pertinent information about the individual. The judge will also look at the offender’s role in the crime and the individual’s acceptance of responsibility of the crime. When it comes time for sentencing the judge will take into consideration the information obtained in the pre-sentence report, as well as, supply the defense and prosecuting attorneys with a copy of the document before the court date of sentencing is set.
This sentence will also provide information regarding the individual’s family, relationship, employment, health and criminal background, even relationships with other criminals and any drug abuse or use (The Department of Justice, 2007). A judge or magistrate may be seeking to fulfill more than one punishment objective. Without having sentencing in the court room there would be no punishment. The offender must go through the full process before being punished.
This is just my take on it but I tend to see the problem of recidivism as one of failing to transition back into society as a productive integrated member of a community. I don’t think that there are many solutions to this problem on the sentencing end. My suggestion is that people need help getting a job and living arrangements ready for when they are released. Getting rid of the “scarlet letter” that takes the form of a felony record would help too; because once you do your time for your crime you should not be indefinitely punished. Most people who re-offend do so because their criminal record prevents them from getting a job.
Am Law Econ Rev (2003) 5 (2): 318-343.
Harry Mika. “Listening to Victims – A Critique of Restorative Justice Policy and Practice in the United States.” Federal Probation (June 2004). Stravinskas, Stephanie, “Lower Crime Rates and Prisoner Recidivism” (2009). Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century, Eleventh Edition, by Frank Schmalleger. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education,
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Crime justice sentencing Paper. (2016, May 05). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/crime-justice-sentencing-paper/