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Criminal Justice: Punishment and Sentencing Research Paper


Introduction

Criminal justice is the system that combines “three major institutions which process a case from inception, through trial, to punishment” (FindLaw, 2013). Mainly, people find themselves involved in this system because a crime was committed. The representatives of the general public got used to the fact that one party is to be punished, and another one is to provide punishment. They believe that such approach is decent because it reveals what the criminals deserve.

Punishment is advantageous for the society because it can prevent the commitment of further crimes maintained by both the same person and other people. Its implementation can protect the members of world’s population from being involved in various affairs with dangerous and dishonest individuals. Finally, punishment can serve as a proof and a guide for the general public that reveals how they should act, what laws follow, and why. Its decree occurs in the form of sentencing, which explains how a criminal will be punished and for what (Zedner, 2004). Both punishment and sentencing are connected with the law.

They reveal what can happen to a person if one commits crimes. There are different peculiarities of punishment and sentencing that provide the court with the opportunity to choose those that are the most appropriate for the particular population. Still, before implementing them, professionals are to gather enough authoritative evidence that will relate to the case and prevent the occurrence of inconsistencies based on disparity and discrimination.

Connection between Punishment and Sentencing

Sentencing can be treated as a set of rules, according to which the offender is punished. Punishment, in its case, tends to connect conducted crimes and sanctions that are used in the court. The first thing this system should address deals with the type of sanction selected and aspects that made that relate to the crime. Punishment, in its way, focuses on the justification of crimes according to the law. In this way, punishment and sentencing are connected with each other.

Taking everything mentioned into consideration, it can be claimed that punishment and sentencing are connected to each other. When being in the court, the judge and the jury discuss some case and develop a sentence; they mainly state how much time an offender should spend maintaining one’s punishment. Even though one is not willing to do so, the criminal has no other opportunity but to obey, as it was required because of the law violation and issues with the probation. Still, there is a possibility that judge will give a sentence, having no relevant punishment. For example, if it is proved that the person did nothing wrong, one may be free to return home. Still, some individuals are found guilty; the punishment will also be declared.

Concept of Punishment

The law exists, and the representatives of the general public are expected to follow it. Its absence and lack of particular rules would mean that people are free to do everything they want. In this way, crimes occur because the law is violated. When such cases are entailed by appropriate evidence, punishment is provided. It starts with the expression of one’s disapproval regarding the actions that violated the law and is lately entailed by sanction.

As a rule, punishment is provided by the representative of the state’s power, but it can also be delivered by a private corporation. Such intervention is justified by the advantages it provides to the society, which includes discouraging people from conducting inappropriate actions, making individuals realize that they are responsible for the things they do, protect the general public from criminals, and communicate shared values and boundaries (Roberts & Hough, 2002).

Concept of Sentencing

Sentencing is tightly connected to the punishment, as it identifies the way the punishment will look like in a particular case. It can be treated as a declaration of how the representatives of the general public react to crimes and those who committed them (Findlay, Odgers, & Yeo, 2005). A person is sentenced for almost the same purposes one receives punishment. The court is to make sure that one will receive appropriate punishment for indecent actions, other crimes can be prevented and the community protected (Bottoms & Robinson, 2004).

Except for that, an individual receives a chance to rehabilitate. A person can be sentenced when one admits his/her guilt, or it is proved by the court (the trial by the judge alone or the hearing with the jury). Local, District, and Supreme Courts can be approached. The hearing that deals with sentencing is held apart from the one that was focused on the punishment. In the framework of one and the same case, the offender may face different sentences because they are not universal or divided according to strict rules. In fact, there is no correct outcome that can be reached in the court. Sentencing has several functions.

The symbolic one of sentencing deals with the ensuring that citizens can differentiate positive and negative as well as normal and criminal behaviors. Instrumental one is more practical, as it is focused on the reaffirmation of the fact that criminals are found guilty of their crimes and are punished for them.

Purposes of Punishment

In general, punishment is implemented to make the offenders take responsibility for the things they have done. Still, when considering this aspect in detailed, such four main purposes can be identified:

  • Deterrence:
    • specific – deals with the desire to control one’s actions and prevent the commitment of future crimes.
    • general – punish one individual for the particular action to make others see that it is wrong and that it will entail serious and unpleasant outcomes.
  • Retribution: deals with the assessment of the situation and desire to find out whether the crime was morally right. The nature of the crime is discussed in this way. In this framework, it is critical for the suspect to get even (Girma & Feleke, 2013).
  • Rehabilitation: is focused on the attempt to influence the suspect and make one reform to prevent possible occurrence of similar cases with the course of time.
  • Incapacitation: puts the focus on the restriction of offender’s freedom. One can be put on home detention so that the necessity to change the residence does not occur but the opportunities become more limited. In the professional setting, this purpose can be met with the help of license cancellation because the worker will not be able to maintain the same actions anymore. Finally, a person can be incapacitated (Shipp, 2011).

In this way, punishment turns out to be an integral element of the criminal justice that supports it and ensures the tendency to reach positive environment in the country. It proves that the law should be treated as a guideline to assess every step made forward. Punishment educates the representatives of the general public, showing them the scope of their freedom and abilities.

Types of Sentences and their Functions

Sentencing is a complex procedure, which requires much effort from the professional. Unfortunately, this issue is even more critical in the USA, as the country has no decent sentencing laws that can be followed. But, in general, professionals make their decisions when considering several types of sentencing (Easton & Piper, 2016).

In the majority of cases, people are put in the prison. This sentence can be indeterminate, which means that it does not mention the time that should be spent in the prison clearly and only provides the limits of the maximum and minimum. With the course of time, the judge may change the length of the sentence. Determinate sentences often follow the crime category to state the time the incarceration will last.

In some cases, the judge has the right to name the time. Mandatory sentences are usually developed for certain offenses when the judge does not play attention to the background of the suspect, and other types of sentences cannot be imposed. To make deterrence effective, people who are likely to become offenders should consider all advantages and disadvantages of the acts they are going to commit. Moreover, the punishment and sentence should be maintained decently for the suspects to see that they are likely to have a lot of problems if they do something wrong (Emmert, 2014). The time spent in the prison can be reduced in several cases.

First of all, it can be used if the person behaves well. Rehabilitation work can be needed to ensure that the person is able to live in the society. Finally, they can refer to the truth in Sentencing.

Intermediate sanctions restrict people’s freedom. They tie a person to the limited location. Such approach appeals to the convicts more than incarceration because it is less severe. However, it is rather costly; that is why professionals do not refer to it rather often (Bull, 2010).

Probation is another type of sentencing, which is not very strict. In its framework, offenders are expected to spend a particular amount of hours, being occupied in community services. The conditions of the probation may vary, and they depend on the crime.

The most severe sentence is a death penalty. It is abolished in many countries as well as in a range of states that belong to the US. Some professionals consider that the death penalty ensures that criminals will not commit terrible crimes again both when being free and on parole. It allows to pay killers back. Moreover, such approach provides an opportunity to save resources that can be spent on maintaining one’s life. However, some people believe that the death penalty is discriminatory and that nothing will happen (Emmert, 2014).

Sentencing Differences

Depending on the severity of the crime, various sentencing options can be approached when deciding how to punish the offender. The best outcome, of course, is when the conviction is not recorded at all. Still, even if it is recorded, the person may escape all other complications. Rather often criminals are exposed to the intervention programs or/and are made to maintain community services on the volunteer basis. They may receive a reparation or restriction order. In cases connected with business issues, individuals’ licenses are often canceled, and they are obliged to pay fines. When the crime is more serious, the offender may have home detention but is usually imprisoned. In some specific situations, compulsory drug treatment order may be offered (Bageric, 2001).

Trying to affect the severity of the sentence, lawyers refer to aggravating and mitigating factors. The first ones mainly make the case look even more horrible than it really is, while the second ones put the suspect in a good light. Thus, professionals can emphasize the fact that the victim was a representative of the vulnerable population or was a volunteer who helped many people when trying to prove that the punishment and sentence are to be more severe. They can claim that it was not the first attempt of the suspect to reach the victim and commit the crime or that one had been already found guilty of other actions.

When referring to mitigating factors, professionals may say that the offense was done accidentally, or that one was provoked by victim’s behavior. It can be claimed that the suspect is young and immature or that one has a good character. It is even possible to state that the damage done to the victim was not critical. Even though that all these factors are just words that lack ground and cannot be used as the evidence while making the final decision, they affect the way the judge and jury perceive the case (McGuire, 2016).

Sentencing can be also influenced by personal biases and discrimination. For example, it was claimed that young people who do not have any working places and are representatives of some minority are incarcerated more often than people from other populations. In the same way, even though sentencing is considered to be neutral regarding the gender of the suspect, women are rarely sent to prison (McCarty, 2011).

Conclusion

Sentencing can be treated as a set of rules, according to which the offender is punished. Punishment, in its case, tends to connect conducted crimes and sanctions that are used in the court. The first thing this system should address deals with the type of sanction selected and aspects that made that relate to the crime. Punishment, in its way, focuses on the justification of crimes according to the law. In this way, punishment and sentencing are connected with each other.

Taking everything mentioned into consideration, it can be claimed that punishment and sentencing are connected to each other. They both extremely depend on the evidence that is found for the particular case. Before developing a sentence, which will reveal the future of the suspect, the court has a possibility to consider various aspects that can affect the outcomes of the case, including the age of the suspect, one’s background, the record of previous crimes, etc.

They way one acts can be critical because gestures and mimics reveal people’s emotions. Additional factors that may affect the outcomes of the case should also be considered. The connection between crime and sentence may differ; that is why aggregating and mitigating factors should be discussed. This possible disparity may cause a lot of misunderstanding, as it seems to be wrong that the suspects may receive different sentences for the same crimes. In this way, the belief of the general public in the law and criminal justice can be affected adversely.

References

Bageric, M. (2001). Punishment & sentencing. London, UK: Cavendish Publishing.

Bull, M. (2010). Punishment and sentencing: Risk, rehabilitation and restitution. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Emmert, A. (2014). . Web.

Easton, S., & Piper, C. (2016). Sentencing and punishment: The quest for justice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

FindLaw. (2013). How does the criminal justice system work? Web.

Findlay, M., Odgers, S., & Yeo, S. (2005). Australian criminal justice. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Girma, D., & Feleke, M. (2013). Theories of sentencing. Web.

McCarty, M. (2011). Punishment and sentencing. Web.

McGuire, J. (2016). Punishment and sentencing. Web.

Roberts, J., & Hough, M. (2002). Changing attitudes to punishment: Public opinion, crime and justice. Portland, OR: Willan Publishing.

Shipp, M. (2011). Punishment and sentencing. Web.

Zedner, L. (2004). Criminal justice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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IvyPanda. (2020, October 18). Criminal Justice: Punishment and Sentencing. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/criminal-justice-punishment-and-sentencing/

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IvyPanda. "Criminal Justice: Punishment and Sentencing." October 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/criminal-justice-punishment-and-sentencing/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Criminal Justice: Punishment and Sentencing." October 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/criminal-justice-punishment-and-sentencing/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Criminal Justice: Punishment and Sentencing'. 18 October.

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