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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77095 Find in a Library
Title: Issues in Sentencing Offenders to Long-term Confinement (From Confinement in Maximum Custody, P 85-95, 1981, David A Wood and Kenneth F Schoen, ed. - See NCJ-77087)
Author(s): A vonHirsch
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: D C Heath and Co
Lexington, MA 02173
Sale Source: D C Heath and Co
125 Spring Street
Lexington, MA 02173
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The purpose and conditions of long-term imprisonment are examined.
Abstract: Because of the difficulty of predicting dangerous, long-term imprisonment should not be used as a means of incapacitating persons deemed likely to be future serious threats to the public. Long-term imprisonment should only be used as punishment for the commission of a severe offense. Basing long-term imprisonment on a person's prior criminal record, rather than only the offense for which he/she is now being sentenced, violates the concept of just deserts, because the offender has already served the sentences of the previous offenses. Further, it is unjust to punish a person for what he/she might do in the future. Also, persons with a long career of criminality may be approaching a radical decline in criminality due to age or maturity just at the point when the courts would use their extensive criminal record to justify long-term imprisonment, a decision that amounts to 'locking the barn door after the animal has already escaped.' Corrections tends to operate on the assumption that those who have committed severe or multiple offenses and have received long-term sentences should be committed to maximum security environments. This amounts to predicting that such persons will be discipline problems and at high risk for escape attempts. There are no empirical grounds for believing this. The continuum of type of custody required for a given offender should be a response to his/her actual behavior in prison. A question and answer discussion follows the presentation, and notes are provided.
Index Term(s): Criminality prediction; Dangerousness; Maximum security; Punishment; Sentencing/Sanctions
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