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Sanction Imposed for Convicted Criminal - Thomas Smith v. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Background of the Case

The assignment of substitute judge for the day at Suffolk Superior Court. The sentencing case before you features a man found guilty at trial and you must decide, after careful consideration, what sanction shall be applied. The sanction must be fair, equitable, and serve the public's interest. You may choose any sanction you deem appropriate as long as you weigh the options available and justify your decision. Your decision shall have an emphasis on minimizing the risk to the public, while meeting the standard of doing the least amount of harm to all stakeholders.

In your decision, emphasis should be directed to the offender's ability to successfully re-enter the community. 
In a paper of no more than 5 pages, describe the type of sanction, any conditions assigned, and the criminal justice goal of your decision. The text of the paper should be typed, doubled spaced, with 1- inch margins and page numbers. In addition to the text, the paper should include a title page and bibliography for a total of 7 pages. You are required to site at least five sources in the paper. You must incorporate the course textbook into your paper.

The paper should be a well-integrated review of course materials and other sources needed to develop an outline for a criminal sanction based on your preferred punishment philosophy. In addition, you should describe the basic goals of your philosophy as it relates to the sanction you imposed. Include your analysis and critical review of identified research and innovation in contemporary punishment in the paper. Incorporate the answers to the following questions in and be specific and detailed in your explanations. For this paper there are no sentencing guidelines. You may impose any sentence. 


19 year old Thomas Smith was convicted in Suffolk Superior Court of 1 count of Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon (knife, 4 inch switchblade), 2 counts of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, and 1 count of Carrying a Dangerous Weapon (Illegal Knife). 

Prior Record

No Adult convictions, 2 Juvenile Charges, 1 for Disorderly Conduct was dismissed after 6 months pre-trial probation. 1 for possession of Class C, paid $25 fine, dismissed. 

Back Story

Mr. Smith is an only child born and raised in Boston. Grew up with both parents at home, lived in the same apartment his whole life until he moved out to live with his girlfriend and 2 year old son. Mother works as a nurse at Mass General and Father is a custodian in the Boston Schools. 

Sentencing Options Considered

Attended high school until the 10th grade and dropped out. He stated that he was an "ok" student. He stated he dropped out because the school had too many gang issues. Currently, Mr. Smith is enrolled in a GED program. 

Mr. Smith is currently working as a prep cook in a downtown restaurant. He has been employed at the restaurant for the past 9 months. He states he wants to go to school to learn to be a chef. Prior to working at the restaurant, the longest he held a job was for 3 months. Mr. Smith claims he does not drink alcohol. He states he does not have a drug issue because he only "smokes a little weed 3 or 4 days a week." In regard to the present offense, Mr. Smith states that he carried the knife for protection. He states on the date of the incident, he was coming home from work on the T and saw 2 men he knew from high school. He states that both are gang members, with lengthy criminal records, and they were "eye balling him."

When he was getting off the train at his stop, the 2 men followed him and started to leave too. While Mr. Smith was exiting the train, he stopped at the train door, pulled his knife and pointed it at the 2 men and told them to stay on the train. When one of them moved to walk off the train, Mr. Smith stabbed him in the arm. Mr. Smith states that he only did this because he was scared, believing they would harm him, and he did not want any trouble. After the stabbing, the 2 men stayed on the train as it departed. At the next train stop, the stabbing victim was treated by paramedics and transported to the hospital where he received 8 stiches. 

During the incident the 2 men never spoke to Mr. Smith. There were 8 people on the train and 6 on the station platform who witnessed the incident. A witness immediately called the police and Mr. Smith was arrested while walking home from the train station. Four of the witnesses appeared at the trial. 

Questions you must answer for your paper 

1.What is your sanction, and why did you select this sentence?

Consider: Prison, Probation, Length, Split Sentence, Suspended Sentence, Home Confinement, Boot Camp, Treatment, Fine, Forfeiture, Length of Sentence, Consecutive, Concurrent 

2. What are all the other sentencing options you considered?

Consider: Type, length, added conditions, Determinate, Indeterminate, Mandatory

3. What is the goal of the sentence you imposed?

Consider: Deterrence, Incapacitation, Rehabilitation, Reintegration, Restitution, Restoration, Retribution

4. How does your decision meet the public's expectation for justice?

Consider: Proportionality, Equity, Social Debt

5. What are the risks to your sanction?

Consider: Public safety, Victim, Offender, Community, Criminal Justice System

6. What are the costs of the imposed sanction?

Consider: Financial, Physical, and Emotional, for the Victim, Offender, and Society

7. What background factors, if any, did you consider in your decision?

Consider: Offender, Victim, Public Interest 

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