Partial Treatment in Sentencing in American Courts

The criminal justice system functions in such a way that it is impossible to be absolutely fair and impartial. Accordingly, any argument that American courts are impartial in the sentencing of offenders fails to recognize the reality of the situation. A case in point is the sentencing of repeat offenders and parolees. Sometimes, the federal courts rely on presentence reports prepared by probation and pretrial service officers (PSOs) to pass judgments. The reports provide information about the conduct of offenders while on probation or parole. In addition, they provide information concerning the offenders’ conduct and compliance with the court’s directives while free on bail. Although these reports are supplemental to the court’s evaluation of crimes, they often influence the severity or leniency of the judges’ sentence. In fact, the reports are often “the means by which judges ease the strain of decision making and shift partial responsibility to the probation department” (Cole & Smith, 2007, p. 277). In addition, a number of sentencing options are available to judges. Consequently, it is common for courts to pass different judgments for similar offenses.

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One way of addressing partial treatment in the justice system is to implement sentencing guidelines, which stipulate the expected sanctions for specific types of crimes. These clarifications will promote uniformity in sentencing trends by helping judges determine appropriate punishments for certain offenses. Nevertheless, partiality in sentencing is inevitable in the criminal justice system. This is because it helps to achieve balance in the utilization of correctional facilities. One reason that makes the courts partial is the need to ease congestion in jails. This challenge allows judges to pass alternative judgments depending on the pressure on prisons. Consequently, an offender may get free on probation or be confined to a rehabilitation center instead of being sentenced to a jail term. 

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