Sentencingand Punishment essay

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Punishment has remained a subject of debate for political leaders, philosophers and lawyers for a long time. Many theories have been trying to justify and provide the necessary objectives for it. The objectives of punishment were originally meant for the following purposes; rehabilitation, retribution, incapacitation and deterrence.  It does not take into account other purposes which are served by the criminal law like maintaining the standards of work place, behavior and morality. Each of these objectives mentioned has its philosophy,(Dratt, Stewart &Nesson, 2000)

Deterrence is a philosophy applied with a belief that an unpleasant result will make people think more than once before perpetrating, doing or repeating an action. It is very effective in the stoppage of crimes that are preplanned. Retribution is the ‘tooth for tooth’ philosophy that is applied to punishments that are meant to have the offender suffer the same pain as the victim. According to restitution beliefs, the offender should have to recover the pain for the loss with either service or money. And the last one, rehabilitation, which is more often used with the juvenile, isapplied in the hope that a person will resolve and turn to positive life from the society’s perspective.

Modern theories already from the 18th century have tried to emphasize the dignity of individuals, responsibility and the rationality in which the act is done. This has been much attributed to the presence of humanitarian movements in America and Europe. As compared to the prior system, the severity and quantity of the punishment have been reduced to greater extents. The prison system has also been improved, and there has been a need to study the psychology of crimes.

The criminal justice system and policy of the United States has been guided by a report; ‘The Challenges of Crime in a Free Society’ which was issued by the President’s commission in 1967. Known as the commission on law enforcement and administration of justice, it made more than 200 recommendations which were part of the complete approach towards fighting and prevention of crimes. The commission proposed a systematic approach in handling of criminal justice and better coordination among the courts, law enforcement agencies and correction agencies. The commission defined the system of criminal justice as a means in which the society impose the standards and the conducts necessary to protect the community and individuals. It is meant to raise the level of confidence in public and give a perception that the system is fair and unbiased and will serve to all law abiding citizen. It aims at balancing thecontrol and prevention goal of crime as well as equal justice to all.

The courts are institutions that help in solving disputes and settle justice as per the administration of the law. With regards to criminal justice, there are a number of relevant persons under each court who are involved in setting the ruling. They are referred to as the courtroom work group and are comprised of both the professional and the non-professionals. They include the defense attorney, prosecutor and the judge. In the United States and other countries whose number is growing day by day, the innocence or guilt is determined through the system of adversary. Here, the involved parties offer their version of circumstance and events and argue out their case before the jury. The case is decided in favor of the one who offer a compelling and sound arguments basing on the law as the facts apply. The defense attorney advises the accused on the legal processes available before his case and theprosecutor’s duty of the court is to explain to the court the type of crime committed and its details. In the U.S., any accused is entitled to a defense attorney who is a government paid to those who cannot afford hiring a private one. This is a hypothetical situation, though the right of a defense attorney has not been provided for in the Constitution (Welch, 1999).  Once an accused is proven guilty, the relevant punishment is given according to the extent and the type of crime committed.

When correction measures are applied, offenders are handed over to the correction authorities. Just like other practices of criminal justice, administration of punishment has taken a number of forms. In history, the primary forms were exile and shame punishments were used as forms of censure. Today, the most prevalent form of punishment is the prison which serve as detention centers for guilty and tried up criminals. The prison serves several purposes to the individual and the state at large(Hindelang et al, 1973). One of the purposes is that it removes the criminal and keeps him/her away from the general public thus inhibiting his/her ability to perpetrate more serious crimes.

There are more established goals of current prisons other than retribution, rehabilitation and probation. Modern prisons in the U.S are offering job training and schooling facilities. This is an opportunity to offer criminals a vocation and eventually earn a legitimate living when they are returned back to their societies (Nielsen & Silverman, 2009). Religious institutions are given a chance to built morality in this group with the objective of teaching ethics and instilling a sense of morality in them. However, prisoners can also be released before their term is over through a process known as parole. This happens when the behaviors of the inmate appear to have some improvement and the term left is relatively less. Once they are released, restrictions are of higher magnitude than those of probation.

Apart from prisons, there are other forms of punishment used together or instead of a prison. One of the oldest is monetary fines which are paid to the victim or state by the accused. House arrests and probation are other sanctions that seek to limit the person’s mobility and hence crime committing opportunities without necessarily putting them in a prison setting.

It is therefore apparent that, prisons are appropriate in dealing with social problems and improving ways of dealing with crime and other criminal offences. It is important to recreate the prison industrial system based on transformation, reconciliation and preparation, rather than on retribution.

Secure custody is a temporary residential facility provided to alleged criminals who are awaiting court placement and disposition. These facilities are community based and are different from secure detention which is meant to be long term.  A prison environment is a place where confinement of inmates takes place and serves to deprive them much of their freedom. This environment affects the management of secure custody due to the level of security required in each. 

In most cases the secure custody facilities are located at the same place with inmate prisons. It may pose problems when working on an environment where there are two different sets of rules. One is on an ongoing basis while the other is on a constant state(Friendly, 1998). Corruption may be as obvious in such institutions as the yet to be convicted may collude with the warden and other officers allow in weapons drugs thus degrading their performance. Possible solutions to these problems are split-up of these two departments and allow each to operate as an independent organ but with the necessary supervision.

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