Topic 10 Sentencing Retribution The aim of a retributive sentence is to punish the offender. The phrase ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ is often used when discussing this aim. The idea is that if a person has knowingly done wrong, he or she deserves to be punished and society expects that he or she will be.
Topic 10 Sentencing Rehabilitation Rehabilitation helps an offender to solve the issues that lie behind his or her criminal behaviour. The intention is that if the problems are solved, the offender will avoid committing further offences. For example, a drug addict who steals to fund his or her habit may be assisted to overcome his or her addiction, thereby removing the need to steal in future. Other offenders may be helped to develop their social skills and some may undertake training to improve their chances of employment.
Topic 10 Sentencing Reparation Reparation is based on the notion that the offender ‘makes amends’ for his or her crime. He or she attempts to ‘repair’ the damage caused by the offence, usually by carrying out work in the community or by paying financial compensation. This encourages offenders to accept responsibility for their crimes.
Topic 10 Sentencing Deterrence The aim of deterrence is to punish criminals in order to deter people from offending and thus reduce the number of offences committed. There are two different types of deterrence: specific deterrence general deterrence
Topic 10 Sentencing Specific deterrent A specific deterrent applies to an individual and the aim is to deter that particular person from re-offending.
Topic 10 Sentencing General deterrent A sentence designed to act as a general deterrent is aimed at people in general. The hope is that people will be deterred from committing crimes by the level of punishment that they will receive if convicted. A general deterrent might be used if a particular type of crime has become prevalent — for example football hooliganism, joy-riding or mobile-phone robberies.
Topic 10 Sentencing Denunciation In denunciation, society expresses its outrage at the behaviour of the individual and condemns it. This is sometimes used in the USA, as convicted shoplifters are made to stand outside the shop that they stole from with a sign proclaiming that they are thieves. Local newspapers also feature sections ‘naming and shaming’ those who have been convicted.
Topic 10 Sentencing Protection of the public The aim of protecting the public is frequently used as a strong general justification for punishment and imprisonment in particular. It is argued that the public needs protection from dangerous criminals and prison removes these criminals from the public domain by restricting their liberty. In physically restraining offenders, it protects the public, albeit temporarily, from becoming the victims of further acts of crime.
Topic 10 Sentencing Types of sentences custodial community-based fine discharge
Topic 10 Sentencing Custodial sentence As there is no longer a death penalty in the UK, the most severe criminal sanction for those over 21 years of age is imprisonment. The punishment is the removal of the offender’s liberty but can often go beyond this, as prisoners’ whole lives are affected. They may lose their jobs, homes and families as a result of a prison sentence.
Topic 10 Sentencing Criminal Justice Act 2003 Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the court can only pass a custodial sentence if it thinks that the offence was so serious that neither a fine alone nor a community sentence can be justified for the offence. It may also be imposed to protect the public from violent or sex offenders.
Topic 10 Sentencing Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 The Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 lays down minimum sentences for some crimes. Unless the court thinks it unjust, a person will receive a minimum sentence of 7 years for a third class-A drug trafficking offence, and a minimum of 3 years for a third conviction of domestic burglary.
Topic 10 Sentencing Early release Those sentenced to less than 4 years will be released after serving half of their sentences. Those with a longer sentence will have to serve two thirds of their sentence prior to release. When they are released, they remain on licence for the remainder of their sentence. Those sentenced to life may apply for parole once they have served the recommended tariff, but if released they will remain on licence for life.
Topic 10 Sentencing Suspended prison sentence In exceptional circumstances, a person may receive a suspended prison sentence, varying in length from 6 months to 2 years. This means that the defendant does not have to go to prison. The sentence may be suspended for a period between 1 and 2 years. The offender is obliged to carry out work in the community and must not commit any further offences during the time the sentence is suspended, otherwise he or she will have to serve the sentence in prison.
Topic 10 Sentencing Community sentence A community sentence is imposed in 13% of cases each year. It is a serious punishment and an alternative to prison. Anyone aged 16 or over can be given a community sentence and it is seen as more effective at rehabilitating offenders than sending them to prison. Under s.48 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, it can only be passed if the offence is serious enough to warrant it.
Topic 10 Sentencing Types of community service Community sentences may include: between 40 and 300 hours of unpaid work in the community supervision by the probation service treatment for drug or alcohol addiction anger, alcohol or drug training programmes prohibited activity requirement banning the offender from certain activities a curfew requiring an offender to remain in a specified place at certain times
Topic 10 Sentencing Fine A fine requires the offender to pay a financial penalty and may be imposed alone or in addition to another type of sentence. Magistrates can give a maximum fine of £5,0000 but there is no maximum amount in the Crown Court. When setting the level of a fine, the court must take into account two factors: the seriousness of the offence the financial means of the offender
Topic 10 Sentencing Discharge Discharge is imposed in 8% of cases, when the defendant has been convicted of an offence but the court is of the opinion that punishment is unnecessary for some reason. There are two different types: conditional absolute
Topic 10 Sentencing Conditional discharge A conditional discharge means that although the offender will have a criminal record, no further action will be taken against him or her, as long as he or she does not commit a further offence within a specified time period of up to 3 years. If he or she does commit a further offence, he or she may be re-sentenced for this offence as well as receiving whatever sentence is passed for the second offence.
Topic 10 Sentencing Absolute discharge An absolute discharge means that the defendant will have a criminal record but no further action will be taken against him or her.
Topic 10 Sentencing Youth sentencing A young offender is an offender under 18 years of age. Many of the sentences given to young offenders are the same as those imposed upon adults. Youths can receive conditional and absolute discharges as well as fines. There are differences, however, in community and custodial sentences given to adults and those given to youths.
Topic 10 Sentencing Community sentences reparation order referral order attendance centre order action plan order supervision order community rehabilitation order community punishment order
Topic 10 Sentencing Custodial sentences (1) Offenders under the age of 18 cannot be given a custodial sentence but they may be detained elsewhere, for example in a young offenders’ institution or local authority accommodation.
Topic 10 Sentencing Custodial sentences (2) Detention and training order. Detention under sections 90 and 91 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act Sentence less than 4 years. Sentence 4 years or more.