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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 126346 Find in a Library
Title: On Sentencing (From Punishment and Privilege, P 83-93, 1986, W. Byron Groves and Graeme Newman, eds. -- See NCJ-126341)
Author(s): E van den Haag
Date Published: 1986
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: Harrow and Heston Publishers
Albany, NY 12203
Sale Source: Harrow and Heston Publishers
1830 Western Avenue
Albany, NY 12203
United States of America
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: More severe or frequent punishment is generally a deterrent, but no threat can deter everyone and justice requires that punishment be in proportion to offense gravity.
Abstract: Although the threat of punishment deters, actual punishment is retributive since it punishes only past offenses. The distribution of punishment deserved according to guilt is morally justified by concepts of retribution and desert. Further, punishment is usually essential to rehabilitation, although rehabilitation is incidental to punishment. Without punishment, rehabilitation is not likely to occur because it is the experience of punishment and the threat of future punishment that may indicate to offenders their criminal conduct is self-defeating. Confinement is not essential to punishment, since punishment may consist of a fine or, in the past, infliction of pain. Whereas punishment is threatened in order to deter, incapacitation may also be imposed for reasons that have nothing to do with deterrence. The punishment threatened for committing a second offense should exceed that threatened for the first offense. Juveniles who have committed acts defined as crimes when committed by adults should be tried and sentenced by the same courts in which adults are tried and under the same laws. If more severe and frequent prison sentences are given, a higher proportion of offenders will be in prison and more prisons will have to be built. The cost of imprisonment is higher than it need be for three reasons: (1) attempts are made to provide prisoners with rehabilitative services which have never been shown to contribute to the goal of punishment, including rehabilitation; (2) prisoners are not given productive work; and (3) the most costly part of imprisonment consists of measures taken to prevent escapes.
Main Term(s): Punishment; Sentencing disparity
Index Term(s): Deterrence; Incapacitation theory; Incarceration; Just deserts theory; Rehabilitation
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