Discuss causes of criminality and determine treatment likely to prevent reoffending

Discuss causes of criminality and determine treatment likely to prevent reoffending



James Q. Wilson: “wicked people exist”
Set them apart through imprisonment
Thomas Hobbes: “in revenge and punishments men ought not to look at the greatness of evil past, but at the greatness of the good to follow”
Sentencing should deter offenders
Goals of Sentencing

Many reasons for imposing sanctions, may be contradictory
Reasons not mutually exclusive, often overlap

Reflects society’s moral outrage at or disapproval of a crime
Focus on crime, not individual
Sentence proportionate to crime; balance harm caused by offender

People are rational beings with free will who prefer pleasure over pain
People weigh the benefits and cost of future actions before deciding to act
Choose crime when benefits exceed costs
Types of deterrence
Specific deterrence: aimed at individual offenders
General deterrence: aimed at potential offenders

Removal of offenders from the community through imprisonment or banishment
Form of specific deterrence; prevents offenders from committing future crimes
Selective incapacitation; focus on high-rate and dangerous career criminals

Reforming an offender to become a productive member of society through treatment, education, or counseling
Dominant philosophy during period of 1940s through the 1970s
Identify causes of criminality, determine treatment likely to prevent reoffending

Fairness: making the punishment fit the crime
Ultimate determination of proportionality made by Supreme Court
Types of Sentences

Primarily linked to particular offenses
Specified by state and federal criminal codes
Judges have wide range of sentencing options
Intermediate Sentences

Intermittent incarceration
Intense probation supervision
Community service
Indeterminate Prison Sentences

Establishes minimum and maximum number of years to be served
Actual time for release determined by a parole board
Determinate or Structured Prison Sentences

Fixed terms of imprisonment
Emerged as a result of the sentencing reform movement in the 1970s
Eliminate sentencing disparities
Create system of uniform sentences
Redistribute time served in prison
Presumptive Sentencing

Range of minimum and maximum terms of incarceration
Judge determines specific number of years served within range
May depart from presumptive sentence if aggravating or mitigating factors exist
Sentencing Guidelines

Limit judge’s discretion to impose disparate sentences for similar offenders
Deemphasize rehabilitation as a primary goal in sentencing
Guidelines direct judge to determine sentence by weighing offender’s criminal history against severity of current offense
Mandatory Sentences

Require imprisonment of offenders who are convicted of certain types of serious crimes
Mandatory minimum sentences established enhanced prison terms for particular crimes
Habitual Offender Statutes

Three-strikes laws
Require longer sentences for offenders convicted of a third violent felony
Unintended consequences
Positive association with homicide rates
Disproportionately harsh effects on African Americans
Truth in Sentencing

Require that offenders and especially violent offenders serve at least 85% of their sentences
Establish closer correspondence between judicially imposed sentences and actual time served in prison
Concurrent and Consecutive Sentences

Concurrent sentences
Multiple sentences served at the same time
Consecutive sentences
Multiple sentences served one after another
Arriving at an Appropriate Sentence

Sentencing a difficult decision for judges
Consider three interrelated questions
What are the appropriate goals of sentencing and how should they be weighed?
How can sentencing goals be achieved under the circumstances of the case?
What specific sentence is justified given facts of the case?
The Presentence Investigation Report (PSI)

Widely believed to be the cornerstone of sentencing decisions
Comprehensive report on offender background, offense, other relevant information
Helps the court understand the nature of the crime within the context of the offender’s life
Based on interviews with offender, family members, employers, friends, police reports, victim statements
The Sentencing Hearing

Felony sentencing takes place at sentencing hearing
Offender may deny, explain, add to information in PSI report
Prosecutor may make sentence recommendations
Bifurcated trial required in sentencing of offenders convicted of capital crimes
Role of the Victim in Sentencing

Victims permitted to submit victim impact statements (VIS); oral or written
Justifications for VIS at sentencing
Criticisms of VIS
Disparity and Discrimination in Sentencing

Determinate sentencing reduces sentencing disparity but does not eliminate it
Sentencing disparities occur when similar cases are sentenced differently
Sentencing discrimination exists when illegitimate morally objectionable or extralegal factors are taken into account in the sentencing decisions
Disparity and Discrimination in Sentencing

Race/ethnicity: African Americans disproportionately receive prison sentences
Gender: Women find increasing leniency at all stages of system
Socioeconomic status: Poor defendants less able to post bail, may lead to disadvantage at sentencing
Age: Research mixed, but recent study found no significant relationship between offender age and length of sentence
Capital Punishment

Between 1977 and 2014, more than 1,394 executions in the United States
Average of 38 executions each year
Peaked in 1999, when 98 persons were executed
Number of Persons Executed in the United States, 1977–2014

Source: Snell, T. (2014). Capital punishment, 2014—Statistical tables. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State.

Supreme Court Decisions

Furman v. Georgia (1972)
McCleskey v. Kemp (1972)
Gregg v. Georgia (1976)
Coker v. Georgia (1977)
Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008)
Supreme Court Decisions

Perry v. Lynaugh (1989)
Stanford v. Kentucky (1989)
Payne v. Tennessee (1991)
Atkins v. Virginia (2002)
Roper v. Simmons (2005)
The Death Penalty Today

36 states, federal government have statutes authorizing death penalty
Since 1977, executions carried out in 34 states
65% in Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia
More than 1/3 in Texas
Majority of prisoners under sentence of death in 2013 were white, never married, had less than high school education, overwhelmingly male
Methods of Execution

Methods used in United States
Lethal injection
Lethal gas
Firing squad
Lethal injection primary/exclusive method in 36 states
Arguments for Capital Punishment

Largely focused on deterrent impact
Another justification rests on the principle of retribution
Broad public support for death penalty persists in United States
Arguments Against Capital Punishment

Discrimination in application
Brutalizing effect on society
Criminal justice system not infallible; possibility of death-row inmate being innocent exists
Grounds for Appellate Review of Sentence

Sentence violates Eighth Amendment
Sentence is disproportionate
Abuse of discretionary power
Fell outside statutory sentence guidelines
Imposed by a court not having jurisdiction authority
The Appeal Process

Postconviction appeals
Notice of appeal must be filed 30 to 90 days following conviction
All death penalty sentences required to undergo automatic appellate review
Today, after exhausting state appeals, most prisoners are allowed only one appeal in federal courts

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