Punishment & Sentencing • The Criminal Justice system aims to solve three basic questions: • What conduct is criminal? • What determines guilt? • What should be done with the guilty?
The Goals of Punishment • Retribution – punishment inflicted on a person who has infringed on the rights of others and so deserves to be penalized • Deterrence • General – members of the general public, on observing the punishment of others, will conclude that the costs of crime outweigh the benefits • Specific – targets the decisions and behavior of offenders who have already been convicted
The Goals of Punishment • Incapacitation – assumes that society can keep an offender from committing further crimes by detention in prison or by execution • Selective Incapacitation – targets offenders who repeat certain kinds of crimes • Rehabilitation – the goal of restoring a convicted offender to a constructive place in society through some form of training or therapy
Forms of the Criminal Sanction • Incarceration • Good Time – a reduction of an inmate’s prison sentence, at the discretion of prison administrator, for good behavior or participation in vocational, educational or treatment programs • Truth-in-Sentencing – laws that require offenders to serve a substantial proportion of their prison sentence before being released on parole • Indeterminate Sentences
Forms of the Criminal Sanction • Probation – a sentence an offender serves in the community under supervision • Shock Probation – an offender is released after a period of incarceration and resentenced to probation • Death
Three Basic Sentencing Structures • Indeterminate Sentence – a period, set by a judge, that specifies a minimum and a maximum time to be served in prison • Determinate Sentence – fixes the term of imprisonment at a specific period • Mandatory Sentence – requires that a certain penalty be imposed and carried out for convicted offenders who meet certain criteria
Key Supreme Court Decisions • Furman v. Georgia – the death penalty, as administered, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment • Considering petitioners’ cases, death penalty cruel and unusual punishment • Gregg v. Georgia- death penalty laws are constitutional; death not inappropriate sentence in all situations
Key Supreme Court Decisions • McCleskey v. Kemp – rejection of a challenge of Georgia’s death penalty on grounds of racial discrimination • Atkins v. Arizona – execution of the mentally retarded is unconstitutional • Ring v. Arizona – juries must decide whether or not a convicted murderer will receive the death penalty
Execution of the Mentally Ill • Ford v. Wainwright – the 8th Amendment prohibits the execution of the insane • Is it moral to treat a person to make them sane enough to execute?
Execution of Juveniles • Minimum age is determined by the state • Permitted by 23 of the 38 death penalty states • Thompson v. Oklahoma – the court would not allow a 15 year old offender to be executed • Stanford v. Kentucky & Wilkins v. Missouri – the justices upheld the death sentences imposed on 16 & 17 year old offenders
The Issue of Effective Counsel • Strickland v. Washington – the Supreme Court ruled that defendants in capital cases had the right to representation that meets an objective standard of reasonableness • Wiggins v. Smith – the court declared that an inexperienced lawyer failed to provide adequate representation
Death-Qualified Juries • Witherspoon v. Illinois – potential jurors who have general objections to the death penalty cannot be automatically excluded from jury service in capital cases • Juries are likely to lean toward believing defendant is guilty and imposing death penalty by the very process of undergoing death qualification
Debating the Death Penalty • Against • The death penalty is not a deterrent • It is wrong for the government to kill • The death penalty is applied in a discriminatory way • Innocent people have been sentenced
Debating the Death Penalty • For • The death penalty is a deterrent • The death penalty prevents crime • Justice requires that a person who murders be executed • The death penalty is less expensive
Debating the Death Penalty Against Studies show death penalty is not a deterrent Sometimes execute the wrong person Often a long time between crime and punishment Very expensive
The Sentencing Process • Judges have the responsibility of imposing sentences • Sentencing does not always involve applying clear-cut principles • Judges can combine forms of punishment • Influenced by: • Administrative context of the courts • Attitudes and values of the judge • Presentence report • Sentencing guidelines
The courts must take into account the needs of the defendant and at the same time take into the account the needs of society. The penalty cannot by too harsh that is violates the 8th amendment. It cannot be too lenient that society is not protected or served.
The Administrative Context of the Courts • Misdemeanor Courts • Assembly-Line Justice • Overloaded and allot minimal time to each case • Assume the defendant is guilty and that the vast majority of defendants will plead guilty • Felony Courts • Atmosphere is more formal • Exchange relationships among the courtroom actors facilitate plea bargains
Attitudes and Values of Judges • Attitudes concerning the offender’s blameworthiness • Protection of the Community • Practical Implications of the Sentence
Presentence Report • Written by the probation officer after an investigation into the convicted person’s life • Also assists in the classification of probationers, prisoners and parolees • In some states the probation officer can make judgments • Shifts partial responsibility to probation department
Sentencing Guidelines • Indicate to judges the expected sanction for particular types of offenses • Intended to limit discretion • Range of sentencing options is based on the seriousness of the crime and on the criminal history of the offender • Grid system that judges may deviate from depending on aggravating or mitigating circumstances
Who Gets The Harshest Punishment? • Research on racial disparities is inconclusive • Some studies show that there is a high cost of being black, young and male • Other studies do not support this assumption • Relationship between race and sentencing is complex and that judges should consider specific characteristics
Wrongful Convictions • Little attention is given to those who are convicted, but are innocent • DNA has increased the number of people convicted and later exonerate • Ideals of justice are never served by wrongful conviction