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Introduction to Criminal Justice

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1 Introduction to Criminal Justice
Chapter 10

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”– Packer How 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 committed Deterrence– 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 up Rehabilitation: 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 officials Indeterminate 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 actions Truth 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 legislature Each offender has different problems and should receive tailored sentence to fit each person’s circumstances 1970’s– Move to reign in judicial authority in sentencing with structured systems

9 Parole Release Whereby 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 community Traditional 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 offender Judge should consider circumstance of each individual offender in imposing sentence

11 Forms of Punishment Capital Punishment: The death penalty, normally reserved for 1st degree murder Imprisonment: Commonly used; overcrowding a significant issue Probation: Offender permitted to live in community under supervision Fines: Monetary penalty Restitution and community service: Reparations to the injured party or community Restorative justice: “Healing” the harm

12 Sentencing Process Requires the judge to consider all the relevant information to the offense and the offender in determining the sentence Presentence Investigation Report (PSIR): Describes crime, victims, defendant’s prior record, personal data (family, work, health, education, problem areas, lifestyle) Completed by Probation Officer for Judge Includes a recommendation of sentence

13 Factors of Sentencing Two factors are usually most important:
The seriousness of the crime (primary) Aggravating and mitigating circumstances One other---Prior criminal record “Real offense” consideration: Judges focus on the actual behavior of the defendant, rather than the charge of conviction Some 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 differences Sentencing disparity: Similar sentences for different crimes Different sentences for similar crime Mitigating 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 prison Especially when young and unemployed May 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 1987 Judges may still depart for circumstances not considered by the guidelines Strong 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 crimes Habitual 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 states Can even mandate a life sentence for certain crimes

19 Capital Punishment Death penalty still has support of a majority of public U. S. is only Western Democracy which still has a death penalty Critics 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 states Since the 1980’s– lethal injection implemented in most states A 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 applied Penalty itself was not unconstitutional 38 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 individually Mentally handicapped Age—juveniles not eligible

24 Debating the Death Penalty– in Support
Deters others from committing similar crimes– Not proven by data Incapacitates the offender– He will never murder again Catharsis for society– Must see justice done Only proper penalty for some heinous acts

25 Debating the Death Penalty– In Opposition
The system is fallible– Persons are wrongly accused of capital crimes Ultimate nightmare of the C. J. system False confessions, false eyewitnesses and phony “jailhouse snitches” Penalty still seems arbitrarily applied Poor 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 white Minority 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 eligible Juries can now impose mandatory life sentences rather than death DNA technology has exonerated numerous death row inmates Some 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 crimes Profile: “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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