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Different types of sentences available to the judiciary

1. Explain with examples the different types of sentencing.
2. Explain with examples the impact of policy on sentencing.
3. Explain the possible effects of imprisonment on a defendant and his family.

  1. Concurrent and consecutive sentences - When a person is involved or committed in more than one crime, then he or she will be given sentence for each crime. The difference between the two is that concurrent sentences are to be served at the same time while consecutive sentences are to be provided when the one is completed in a consecutive manner. For example, one year sentence for one crime, followed by six months of the sentence for another crime.
  2. Suspended prison sentences - This type of sentencing is carried out in the community. The defendant is suspended from the prison but he or she has to work for the community welfare. The convict has to follow certain conditions such as he or she has to stay away from a specific place or person and has to work without any payment or wages. It is also known as Community payback. If the conditions are not followed, the convict can be sent to the prison again(Citizensinformation.ie, 2014).
  3. Determinate sentences – In this type of sentence there is fixed period of time. If the sentence is for the period of a year or more, the defendant has to spend the first part of the punishment in jail and the remaining for the community service. If they fail to follow the conditions or they get involved in another crime, they can be sent to the jail again. For prison sentences less than a year, the person usually gets free after the first half of the sentence (Findlaw, 2016).
  4. Indeterminate sentence - There is no fixed period of time for this type of sentence. It means no date is fixed for the release and for consideration for release they have to expend a least amount of time in jail. The Parole Board is accountable for making a decision for the release of a person from prison.
  5. Life sentence- It is given to the person guilty of murder or for severe offences like rape or armed robbery.
  6. Sentences for adolescents- The person aged between 12 to 17 years are provided detention and training order and it lasts between four months and two years. The first part of the detention and training order is to be spent in the custody and the remaining for the community service (UK Government, 2014).

According to the section 142 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, there are five purpose of sentencing i.e. to penalize the wrongdoer, diminish offense, rehabilitate the criminal, defend the public, and to make reparations. These aims achieve:

  • Retribution- The aim is to get the realization by the offender of his or her crime and that he deserves to be punished.
  • Denunciation- The aim is to show the disapproval of the society regarding criminal activities.
  • Incapacitation- The aim is to serve the useful purpose in the society and protection of the public.
  • Deterrence- The aim is to reduce the future levels of crime.
  • Rehabilitation- The intent is to make improvement in the criminal behavior and to rehabilitate them back into the society.
  • Reparations- The intent is to reimburse the injured party by punishing the criminal to compensate an amount of money to the injured party (Legislation.gov.uk, 2003).

Section 170 of the ‘Criminal Justice Act 2003’ affirms the sentencing guidelines and its allocation. Section 170(2) states that the ‘Secretary of the State’ can recommend to the Council to reframe or revise the sentencing guidelines in specific cases or for offences and offenders of a particular category any time.

Subsection 3 of Section 170 states that the Council may consider whether to frame sentencing guidelines any time if it receives the proposal from the Panel or the Secretary of the State.

Subsection 5 suggests the matters to be included when the Council makes a decision to outline or amend the guidelines. It includes the necessity to encourage reliability in sentencing, the impact of sentencing in stopping re-offending, to uphold public assurance in criminal justice system and the observations conversed by the panel.

Subsection 7 states that sentencing guidelines must comprise of the criteria for identifying the gravity of the offenses and the weightage to be specified for any earlier crimes by the criminals (Centre for Social Justice, 2014).

Section 148 of Criminal Justice Act (CJA) 2003 suggests that a court must be obliged to not pass community order to a criminal if the offenses are not serious enough to warrant such kind of sentences. For persistent offenders, section 151 states that the court may make community order as an alternative of imposing a fine if it believes it to be in the interest of justice to make such an order(Ministry of Justice, 2009)

Section 148 of CJA 2003 mentions suitability of the punishment to the offenders. Section 149 imposes restrictions on liberty in a community order in respect of an offense(Ministry of Justice, 2011).

The Court is supposed to think about reducing the overall span of the sentence while imposing a fixed period custodial sentence of a year or more than under the latest provisions. While imposing a suspended sentence, it should be for the similar period that would have issued if the offender were being sentenced to instant custody.

Aims of Sentencing

Sentencing policy considers not only the expenditure of sentencing, but its cost efficacy can also be evaluated in context of its capability to check people from being sufferers in future. For example, in individual cases, sentencing policy and sentencing are influenced by the wish of the society to have a conclusion from the conviction which recognizes the severity of which the society relates such kind of crimes.

It has been proved by several types of research that punitive judgments or harsh sentences do not reduce recidivism but increases the likelihood of the future offending. The offenders who are given prison sentences for a short period of time are more likely to re-offend than the offenders who are given community service. The U.S. War on Drugs and other imprisonment programs is an example of ensuring a continuous supply of the criminals. Sentencing adolescents for the community service ensures that they will be less likely to be in jobs upon release because they are stigmatized and hence, they are treated negatively by the community, in the workplace and in between their peers and friends.  The defendants who become disciplined after their sentencing should also have to face such situations(The National Academies Press, 2014). They are ill-treated by the society and therefore, they are more likely to re-offend and get back to the prison. Most of the defendants lose their self-respect and are forced to be engaged in the illegal pathways. The defendants suffer such conditions and even their family members have to face the ill-treatment by the society because of which the defendants are mentally and emotionally distressed and involve themselves in crime(Doob et al., 2014).

  • Families experience emotional distress due to the temporary loss of one of their loved family member.
  • Families are also stigmatized for the offenses done by the offender and are referred as guilty by the association although they are innocent. This stigma makes the situation more complicated for the family members as they are treated negatively by the community.
  • The partners of the prisoners have to take multiple responsibilities in the household works.
  • Imprisonment of the family member imposes the financial strain on the families by declining the family income and by escalating the family expenditures. For example, costly visiting and phone calling to their family members in the prison (The Scottish Centre for Crime & Justice Research, 2015).
  • Prisoners' children often develop mental health problems and more likely to be engaged in anti-social behavior(Cunningham, 2016).
  • Imprisonment of the mother causes great suffering to the young children and they have to be in the custody of others (Epstein, 2012).

References

Centre for Social Justice, 2014. The CSJ’s Crimina lJustice Programme. Centre for Social Justice.

Citizensinformation.ie, 2014. Types of sentences. [Online] Available at: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/justice/criminal_law/criminal_trial/types_of_sentences.html [Accessed 26 May 2016].

Cunningham, A., 2016. Forgotten families – the impacts of imprisonment. [Online] Available at: https://aifs.gov.au/sites/default/files/ac_0.pdf [Accessed 27 May 2016].

Doob, A.N., Webster, C.M. & Gartner, R., 2014. The Effects of Imprisonment:Specific Deterrence and Collateral Effects. Criminological Highlights, 12(5), pp.1-26.

Epstein, R., 2012. Mothers In Prison:the sentencing of mothers and the rights of the child. Coventry Law Journal, pp.1-33.

Findlaw, 2016. Types of Sentences. [Online] Available at: https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-procedure/types-of-sentences.html [Accessed 26 May 2016].

Legislation.gov.uk, 2003. Criminal Justice Act 2003. The Stationery Office.

Ministry of Justice, 2009. Government response to the Justice Select Committee’s Report: “Sentencing guidelines andParliament: building a bridge”. Crown.

Ministry of Justice, 2011. Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. UK: Ministry of Justice.

The National Academies Press, 2014. 9 Consequences for Families and Children. [Online] Available at: https://www.nap.edu/read/18613/chapter/11 [Accessed 27 May 2016].

The Scottish Centre for Crime & Justice Research, 2015. Impact of punishment: families of people in prison. [Online] Available at: https://www.sccjr.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/SCCJR-Impact-of-crime-prisoners-families.pdf [Accessed 2016].

UK Government, 2014. Types of prison sentences. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/types-of-prison-sentence/sentences-for-young-people [Accessed 26 May 2016].

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