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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 47722 Find in a Library
Title: CHANGING CRIMINAL SENTENCES (FROM READINGS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE, 1978-1979 - ANNUAL EDITIONS, BY DONAL E J MACNAMARA - SEE NCJ-47702)
Author(s): J Q WILSON
Corporate Author: Dushkin/McGraw Hill Publishing Group, Inc
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: Dushkin/McGraw Hill Publishing Group, Inc
Guilford, CT 06437
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE TREND AWAY FROM INDETERMINATE, INDIVIDUALIZED SENTENCING AND TOWARD UNIFORM, MANDATORY SENTENCING IS EXAMINED, WITH REFERENCE TO VARIOUS PLANS FOR REFORMING SENTENCING LAWS.
Abstract: CRITICS OF INDETERMINATE SENTENCING NOTE THAT, ALTHOUGH SOME REHABILITATIVE PROGRAMS MAY WORK UNDER SOME CIRCUMSTANCES FOR SOME OFFENDERS, IT HAS NOT BEEN POSSIBLE TO CHANGE THE RECIDIVISM RATE FOR LARGE NUMBERS OF PERSONS FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME. IF REHABILITATION IS NOT ACHIEVED, THE MAJOR ARGUMENT FOR INDETERMINATE SENTENCING COLLAPSES, AND ETHICAL OBJECTIONS TO THE PRACTICE BECOME OVERPOWERING. THE PROPOSED SOLUTION HAS BEEN TO DEVISE WAYS OF MAKING SENTENCING MORE DETERMINATE, I.E., MAKING THE DURATION OF THE SENTENCE KNOWN AT THE TIME OF SENTENCING. ONE APPROACH IS TO RESTORE POWER OVER SENTENCES TO JUDGES, REDUCING OR ELIMINATING THE ROLE OF PAROLE BOARDS. OTHER APPROACHES INCLUDE FLAT-TIME LAWS, WHICH LIMIT THE RANGE OF POSSIBLE SENTENCES FROM WHICH A JUDGE MAY SELECT; A VARIANT OF THIS APPROACH, KNOWN AS PRESUMPTIVE SENTENCING; AND SENTENCING GUIDELINES. STUDIES ON CRIME, SENTENCING, AND OTHER ASPECTS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ARE CITED, AND PROPOSED SENTENCING REFORMS ARE CONSIDERED IN THE CONTEXT OF STUDY FINDINGS. MORAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, AND PRACTICAL ISSUES RELATED TO SENTENCING PRACTICES ARE POINTED OUT. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT, IF PRISON HAS ANY SINGLE PURPOSE, IT IS TO PUNISH (TO DO JUSTICE), NOT TO DETER OR TO INCAPACITATE. HAVING DECIDED TO PUNISH LAWBREAKERS, SOCIETY MAY THEN ASK WHAT DETERRENT OR INCAPACITATIVE EFFECTS THAT DECISION WILL HAVE AND MAY ADJUST (AT THE MARGIN) THE SWIFTNESS, THE CERTAINTY, AND PERHAPS THE SEVERITY OF THE PUNISHMENT IN ORDER TO MAXIMIZE OBJECTIVES OF DETERRENCE OR INCAPACITATION. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED)
Index Term(s): Determinate Sentencing; Indeterminate sentences; Penology
Note: REPRINT FROM HARPER'S MAGAZINE (NOVEMBER 1977)
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=47722

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