2 “Just” Sentencing“There is no such thing as ‘accurate’ sentencing; there are only sentences that are more or less just, more or less effective. Nothing in the recent or distant history of sentencing reform suggests that anything approaching perfections is attainable.”
3 Purpose of Sentencing “Deserved infliction of suffering on evil doers” “Prevention of crime”– PackerHow can we be certain specific penalties prevent crime?Should criminals’ well being be taken into consideration, as well as society’s needs in sentencing?
4 Four Philosophies of Sentencing Retribution– wrongdoer has freely chosen to violate society’s rules; relies on , just deserts, where severity of sentence is in proportion to the crime committedDeterrence– goal of sentencing is to prevent future crime by “setting an example” and sending a message-- General Deterrence: By punishing one person, others will be dissuaded from similar crime-- Specific Deterrence: An individual, after being punished for an act, will be less likely to repeat that act
5 Sentencing Philosophies (cont’d) Incapacitation: Guarantees the person will no longer be a danger to society, at least while locked upRehabilitation: Criminals can be “treated” and even “cured” of their tendency to commit crime with a new environment and changes in their values and personalities
6 Structure of Sentencing– Legislative Authority Determinate sentencing: A period of incarceration which is fixed by a sentencing authority and cannot be reduced by judges or other correctional officialsIndeterminate sentencing: Incarceration where a judge determines the minimum and maximum terms. When the minimum is reached, he may be eligible for parole release.
7 Structure of Sentencing Good time: A reduction in time served by prisoners based on good behavior, conformity to rules and other positive actionsTruth in sentencing laws: Requires those convicted of serious crimes (usually violent) to complete at least 85% of sentences without good time off; have been challenged on constitutional basis
8 Structure of Sentencing– Judicial Authority Historically, judge has born most of responsibility for choosing proper sentence within guidelines set by legislatureEach offender has different problems and should receive tailored sentence to fit each person’s circumstances1970’s– Move to reign in judicial authority in sentencing with structured systems
9 Parole ReleaseWhereby a prisoner is released from a correctional facility prior to the expiration of his maximum term, but is still under the jurisdiction and supervision of the authorities (Parole Board)Parole Officer supervises the offender in the communityTraditional parole has been abolished in 14 states and the federal system
10 Individualized Sentencing Judicial discretion: Assumption the judge should be given sufficient leeway in determining punishments that fit the crime and the offenderJudge should consider circumstance of each individual offender in imposing sentence
11 Forms of PunishmentCapital Punishment: The death penalty, normally reserved for 1st degree murderImprisonment: Commonly used; overcrowding a significant issueProbation: Offender permitted to live in community under supervisionFines: Monetary penaltyRestitution and community service: Reparations to the injured party or communityRestorative justice: “Healing” the harm
12 Sentencing ProcessRequires the judge to consider all the relevant information to the offense and the offender in determining the sentencePresentence Investigation Report (PSIR):Describes crime, victims, defendant’s prior record, personal data (family, work, health, education, problem areas, lifestyle)Completed by Probation Officer for JudgeIncludes a recommendation of sentence
13 Factors of Sentencing Two factors are usually most important: The seriousness of the crime (primary)Aggravating and mitigating circumstancesOne other---Prior criminal record“Real offense” consideration: Judges focus on the actual behavior of the defendant, rather than the charge of convictionSome argue it renders a plea bargain meaningless; other that it brings fairness to sentencing
14 Question???Are there other important factors, aside from the severity of the offense, and the offender’s prior record which should be considered in sentencing?
15 Inconsistencies in Sentencing Significant variation across states; even within the same court (drug case example)Improper judicial discretion is often blamed for these differencesSentencing disparity:Similar sentences for different crimesDifferent sentences for similar crimeMitigating or aggravating circumstances have disproportionate effect on sentences
16 Sentencing Discrimination Disparities in sentencing can be attributed to extralegal variables, such as gender, race, ethnicity or economic standing“Punishment penalty” for African-Americans and Hispanics—More likely to be sent to prisonEspecially when young and unemployedMay not even be conscious– could be based on judges’ stereotypes
17 Toward Sentencing Reform– Sentencing Guideline Systems Remove discretion from judges with a formula system which considers various factors (offense, prior record most important)Federal system has greatly increased length of term since 1987Judges may still depart for circumstances not considered by the guidelinesStrong opinions on both sides of issue
18 Mandatory Minimum Sentences Further limit judges’ discretion by setting firm minimum terms of imprisonment, especially for violent and drug crimesHabitual offender laws require if convicted twice previously for a felony, the third crime carries a mandatory lengthy sentence (In Iowa, some habitual statutes only require one prior conviction)The third crime does not necessarily have to be a felony in some statesCan even mandate a life sentence for certain crimes
19 Capital PunishmentDeath penalty still has support of a majority of publicU. S. is only Western Democracy which still has a death penaltyCritics believe the penalty is unfairly and inconsistently applied (“luck, money, & race”)Proponents believe it serves as ultimate deterrent
20 Executions Hanging was preferred method after the American Revolution Replaced with electrocution in 1890’s in most states (Edison assisted with this)1920’s– gas chamber became a popular method in some statesSince the 1980’s– lethal injection implemented in most statesA sedative, followed by lethal drugs
21 Question ???? Small Group Exercise Are you in favor or opposed to the death penalty?Go to opposite sides of the room to indicate your view- - Write down several of the key reasons you support your side
22 Court Challenges to the Death Penalty Furman vs. Georgia, 1972: Death penalty violated the 8th amendment since it is inconsistently and discriminatorily appliedPenalty itself was not unconstitutional38 states have now set up “bi-furcated” process– jury decides on death penalty only after they determine guilt—From the Gregg v. Georgia Supreme Court case*A jury must decide if penalty applies to satisfy the supreme court (unless a bench trial)
23 Mitigating Circumstances Which Will Prevent Defendant from Receiving Death Penalty Insanity; each state must define this individuallyMentally handicappedAge—juveniles not eligible
24 Debating the Death Penalty– in Support Deters others from committing similar crimes– Not proven by dataIncapacitates the offender– He will never murder againCatharsis for society– Must see justice doneOnly proper penalty for some heinous acts
25 Debating the Death Penalty– In Opposition The system is fallible– Persons are wrongly accused of capital crimesUltimate nightmare of the C. J. systemFalse confessions, false eyewitnesses and phony “jailhouse snitches”Penalty still seems arbitrarily appliedPoor legal representation can result in person being falsely convicted
26 Discriminating Impact of Death Penalty African-Americans– 4 times more likely to receive death penalty if the victim is whiteMinority defendants charged with murdering whites much more likely to be erroneously convicted of capital offenses
27 Decline in Executions Since 1999 Mentally handicapped and juveniles are no longer eligibleJuries can now impose mandatory life sentences rather than deathDNA technology has exonerated numerous death row inmatesSome upgrading of spending for defense counsel has improved representation
28 Sentencing of Women in the U. S. Females have generally not been punished as severely as men for crimesProfile: “New female criminal” is a single mother, who commits property crimes out of need, abuses drugs as an escape, and are often “primary care giver”Attitudes may be changing somewhat– Under new mandatory sentencing and guideline systems, no consideration is given for gender differences
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