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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75481 Find in a Library
Title: Note on the Sentencing of Criminals
Journal: Policy Review  Dated:(Summer 1977)  Pages:107-115
Author(s): E Van DenHaag
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Arguments are presented for the use of jail sentences as punishment for crime, for the abolishment of parole boards, and for mandatory standardized sentencing with little or no room for discretion.
Abstract: It is suggested that the purpose of punishment must be to do justice and that those who violate the criminal law deserve and have invited the punishment threatened by it. Further, the legal threat is seen to be a means of restraining prospective offenders from breaking the law. Proposals are made to limit the discretion given judges to near zero and to have the law mandate the sentence for each crime. Mitigating or aggravating circumstances which could influence the sentencing decision should be classified and listed in the law, thus allowing judges to increase or decrease a standard sentence by no more than 10 percent. Arguments to limit or abolish the parole board and the parole practice focus on the lack of evidence to prove that rehabilitation programs have had any effect on recidivism, or that parole boards are better able to predict future behavior than judges or the law. The importance of doing justice is emphasized as a major reason for punishment and confinement. Present sentencing practices which judge confinement on the basis of predicted behavior are seen to make the threats of the law incredible and ineffective. Assertions are made that the abolition of parole and the appropriate mandatory flat sentencing of career criminals are likely to reduce the crime rate by at least half, both by incapacitation and by deterrence. Eight explanatory footnotes accompany the text.
Index Term(s): Parole; Parole board; Punishment; Sentencing reform
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