There was once a Television show name "Berretta" and the show theme song said do not do crime if you cannot do the time. That is a true saying, one that should be on every criminal mind why they are committing a crime. Sentencing a criminal for crimes for which they have been convicted of is their due punishment according to the severity of the crime committed. The Courts have for centuries punished criminals according to the belief of the society in which the crime was committed.
The belief systems of a civilized society have often dictated the punishment in criminal procedures. In biblical days, the belief system called for stoning for violation of many of the Jewish people laws. In modern day societies, the term "sentence" is used to refer to punishment for crimes. Sentencing can be further defined as "the process by which a judge imposes punishment on a person convicted of a crime or crimes." (Wallace & Roberson, 2008, p. 337, p. 339) Sentencing can also take several forms, some design to avoid jail or prison terms. The concepts that will be discussed are deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation, and retribution. The general purpose of criminal sentencing is to punishment the convicted criminal for the crimes in which they have committed. However, there are studies that state the intent of criminal sentencing does not always center on merely punishing the convicted criminal. Jo Dixon of New York University "states the formal legal theory of sentencing predict that sentencing is initially determined by legal variables; the substantive political theory predict that sentencing is determined by legal and social status variables." (Dixon, J., 1995, pp. 1157-1158)
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This is to say the concept of punishment for crimes has been influenced by political aspect, which stem from societal concerns. In "the United States its system of law is derived from the English system of Common Law" (Davenport, 2009, p.4). In common Law when one case is settled this set precedent for other cases precedent help maintain a stable sentencing process. A Judge use precedent in the sentencing process. Much time the judge will seek to perform several tasks in the process of sentencing. They will attempt to find alternative method of sentencing. The sentencing process objective has several different views to which are the most productive. Some think sentencing process theory can use the concept of Deterrence.
"Deterrence which is based on the concept that other will see punishment given to a convicted person thus deterring the public from committing crimes" (Wallace & Roberson, 2008, p. 337, p. 339). This concept is based on the idea that society has the mindset to be deterred by the evident of what will occur if they commit a crime. According to Tan Lin offence seriousness can be scaled according to proportionality, deterrent effects appear to follow no linear scale and the relationship between deterrent effects and level of severity of punishment is obscure"(Lin, T., 2009, p. 49). This is to say there is no solid evident that deterrent is effective as the proponents of this theory would argue. Deterrence does have an effect on scaling back other from committing crime but it does not seem to be the most effective concept in this author opinion. Other thinker believes that criminal can be rehabilitation from their criminal behavior.
Rehabilitation is further "defined as focusing on reduction and/or elimination of the criminal propensity to commit crime after release from confinement" (Wallace & Roberson, 2008, p. 337, p. 340). Rehabilitation includes treatment, educational skills and some type of trade. Often time the offender will be trained while still in prison. Rehabilitation has suffered due to budget restrains in many states. The theory seem to be productive when the budget allow for the training and treatment allow. There is a remarkable example of private rehabilitation after serving a prison sentence, located in the Dallas, Texas. The program is called (T.O.R.I.) the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative a faith based program that work with a church called the Potterhouse in Dallas. The program assists inmates after they are release from prison and returning to their communities. "TORI is a five- city partnership that work together to reduce recidivism in Texas. TORI is a program that last 12- month case management program that offer employment, housing, education, family, reunification, health care and spiritual guidance"( http://www.medc-tori.org/ ). Success stories such as the TORI has not always been the case when attempting to rehabilitate. For instance, recidivism has not ended but with successful program such as "TORI," the future could see a substantive
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Francis Cullen wrote a paper stating why "Rehabilitation must be brought back as a central component of correctional policy" (Cullen, 2007, p.12).This was in respond to some thinker saying that rehabilitation does not work. In the paper Cullen "further state that reaffirming rehabilitation as the guiding paradigm for correctional policy and practice is that punishment does not work" (Cullen, 2007, p.12). Without attempt to rehabilitate offender, it seem that the system is merely seeking to punishment and not correct. If one believe that punish is the only system that work criminal sentencing will never improve. Moreover, some thinker believe Incapacitation is the best concept to punish criminal offender.
"Incapacitation is defined as the removal of the offender from society" (Wallace & Roberson, 2008, p. 337, p. 340). This system of punishment is this author opinion is the next to "retribution" the most unproductive of the criminal sentencing. For the government to believe that this is a productive means to stop criminal is nonsense. How is possible to use the term correction when there is nothing changing.
In earlier societies, the term retribution was better known as revenge. Retribution by definition is the "theory of punishment based upon the concept of just deserts" (Wallace & Roberson, 2008, p. 337). The Christian Bible and the Muslim Koran speak often about revenge (retribution) as punishment for sin or crimes against their belief systems. Second Corinthians chapter 10 verse 6 states "and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled" (King James Bible). In other scripture, the Apostle Paul spoke of punishment for crime or sin against societies and God. There many reference to retribution in the "earlier biblical teaching, such as eye for eye, tooth for tooth and limb for limb" (Wallace & Roberson, 2008, p. 340).
In modern societies, retribution is still a desired punishment when families suffer the lost of a love one. However, when one commits a crime the court is the body that seeks retribution for society. This concept is still primitive in the concept that give some who has committed a crime the "just desert" punishment. For example, is it the court duty to allow a rapist to be raped is this just punishment for the crime.
In conclusion, this author believes the best concept in criminal sentence is rehabilitation. This concept has the great chance in bringing meaning to the term correction for criminal. The Government and the Courts should always seek the best concept to sentence criminal. The concept of just locking criminal in prison does not solve the problem due to prison overcrowding and the cycle will never end.