In California, the court heard that On November 4, 1995, Leandro Andrade was involved in a robbery where he stole five videotapes form Kmart store in Ontario California. Two weeks after the robbery On November 4, 1995, Leandro again stole four videotapes this time form a different Kmart store located in Montclair California. The prosecution found out that On November 4, 1995, Leandro had been in and out of prison since 1982. Prior to the robbery, he had been convicted of escaping form prison, transporting marijuana as well as residential burglary. Going by the fact that On November 4, 1995, Leandro Andrade has prior conviction for being involved in criminal activities, the prosecution charged him with two counts of petty theft with a prior conviction. This under the Californian law translates to three strikes which under the mandatory rule subjects the defendant to a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Emmanuel Kant, a great philosopher of ethics stated in his work "Metaphysics of Morals" (Part One), written in 1797 that the definition of a crime and right to punish lies in the moral jurisdiction of both the state and an individual. Different people have different perspectives as to really what a crime translates to. In his opinion, Kant stated that the society or the state cannot exist without laws. This implies that in the absence of the law, there would be no existence of the state or the society. According to White, This further implies that to enforce the law is directly related to protecting the society and the state. Thus, any person violating the law loses the right to be a society member, opposes social order and consequently must be deemed guilty and punished (White, 2006).
According to Kant, the definition of a crime is a violation of social laws which is subject to punishment. In his opinion, Kant argues that punishment is a legal act which has certain basis in the society. This implies that if a crime goes unpunished, this would mean that the law is weak and ineffective. In addition, an action cannot be considered to be a criminal activity in the absence of a jury to determine that. In relation to mandatory sentence, Kant would argue that the court has jurisdiction to punish offenders no matter how small the crime may appear. Not punishing the offenders would translate to the law becoming ineffective and weak. In his view, Kant would say that the reason why most criminal offenders are not first time offenders is because the law is not sufficient enough hence some crimes in the society go unpunished.
However, another philosopher John Stuart Mill would see mandatory sentence as a very bad idea. This is going by his principle that locking out minor offenders form the society does not help them change but only translates to them being hardened and more crime oriented. This implies that the state should concentrate more on increasing the chances of individual of being caught as opposed to increasing the punishment imposed on an individual. Moreover, it is more appropriate to try and alleviate the problem that lead to young criminal offenders to commit crime as opposed to increasing the punishment of the said crimes. The mandatory sentence system is seen as a ticking time bomb in that any system which removes this kind of discretion from judges is bound to work in a counter-interactive manner. Mill would simply suggest that there should always be room for mercy.
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In the view of Aristotle, mandatory sentence has failed in its objective of in the sense that it has failed in resolving the disparity in the criminal justice system. In particular, Aristotle concept of particularism dictates that this problem regarding the justice system is straight to the core in the society. In addition, Aristotle ideas of justice are that there is supposed to be equity and social balance in the society such that the balance of power is not seen to lean too much on one side while weighing heavily on another. In the wake of Aristotle’s ideas, one of the most significant characteristic of mandatory sentences is that the lack of discretionary powers on the part of judges, resulting in a strictly retributivist form of justice. This implies that Aristotle ideas would be to have a socially balanced society with a law that governs and protects at the same time. It is a common belief that the law is a two way edged sword. However, most people fail to understand the true meaning of this and frequently ignore the ideological perspective of the saying. In this regard, mandatory sentence should be applicable in the society but should be applied in a manner such that it works for the common benefit of the involved parties.
Mandatory sentence is one of the most significant approaches with respect to justice that has elicited mixed reactions in its application and adoption. Inn the U.S. mandatory sentence has been applied in most states and the effects of this is that crime has significantly dropped by a considerable margin. However, there are two sides to this. We should concentrate on the real problems in the society that bring about the increased crime activities instead of aiming to punish crime. Some of the questions that we should ask ourselves are what really a crime is and up to what extent is the law applicable in punishing the said crime. This does not imply that crimes should go unpunished but rather, it implies that while crimes should be punished, this should be done at a level that is both fair and considerate. This way, the society will co-exist and perhaps some of the biting problems win the society will be a thing of the past.
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