Help me study for my Writing class. I’m stuck and don’t understand.
There are many ways to regulate criminal sentencing. If there are too few guidelines or regulations regarding sentencing, then judges can sentence however they want to. That can result in very different sentences for similar crimes, just because one defendant had an easy going judge (and got probation) and the other defendant was 2 courtrooms down with a strict judge (and got 2 years in prison).
In order to avoid the wildly varying sentences, some states decided to create mandatory minimum sentencing guildelines. So for burglary, the minimum might be 1 year. It could be more, but at least all defendants face the same minimum sentence for a burglary conviction.
Other states have imposed determinate sentencing, and this means that judges have very little discretion. Each crime has mandatory sentences and the judges can’t vary too much in their sentences.
In CA, we have sentencing ranges. So there is a minimum (for first time offenders or less serious crimes), a medium, and a max (for the most serious offenders, longest records, etc).
You can read about these “Approaches to Sentencing” on page 42-43. BOOK: CONTEMPORARY CRIMINAL LAW 5TH EDITION
In deciding how to approach sentencing, each state must consider what goals they favor. For example, if a state wants to concentrate on rehabilitation, then you’ll see sentences that involve time in an in-house rehabilitation program for defendants who are arrested for possession of an illegal drug. If a state decides that deterrence will help the drug problem, then you’ll see harsh sentences of 2 years in prison for a first time drug offense with the idea that the defendant will never get involved with drugs again (specific deterrence) and his/her friends will avoid drugs too because they know that they could go to prison (general deterrence).
Those are just a few examples. There are 4 different sentencing goals (the book lists 5, it includes restoration, but you won’t be tested on that) and they include retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation. Review the definitions of these goals on page 43 in our textbook.
Now you’re going to play the judge. You have a defendant who has just been found guilty of armed robbery. He defendant robbed a 7-11 store at gunpoint and stole $500. He pointed the gun at the cashier, but the gun didn’t have any ammunition in it. No one was physically injured, although the cashier was understandably very afraid. There was evidence that the defendant has a drug problem. This is the defendant’s first violent conviction, he has past convictions for petty theft and driving under the influence.
I want you to design 4 different sentences for this particular defendant and his crime. Each of your sentences should meet one of the sentencing goals. That means you’ll have 4 different sentences because they will vary with each of the 4 goals you want to meet.
This is a chance for you to get creative and to practice understanding these four goals. Spend some time in this forum because you will see several questions about these sentencing goals on the final exam.