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The Effects of Punishment and Sentencing

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The Effects of Punishment and Sentencing

Since each state determines it's own laws, punishment and sentencing will vary from state to state. While some states consider drunk driving a more severe offense, they have the right to adhere more severe punishment. Sentencing serves several purposes. The purposes for sentencing include retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. In order to understand why the punishment differs between each person that was convicted, lets take a look at the different purposes for sentencing.

Most people refer to retribution as equal justice, or the criminal deserved what he got. In a system that supports retribution, a wrongdoer, who willfully violates the law, must be punished accordingly. With retribution, the punishment usually is proportionate to the severity of the crime. Retribution should not be confused with revenge. Revenge is the punishment of the criminal to the satisfaction of the victim, and not to the needs of society.

Deterrence is not only to punish the criminal, but to also deter him/her from committing crimes in the future. Under this method of punishment, the criminal might receive a stiffer sentence to teach them a lesson, and to show other that this crime will not be tolerated. There are two types of deterrence, general and specific. General deterrence is when one person is punished, others will persuaded not to commit a similar crime. Specific deterrence takes place when a criminal is punished once for a crime and will be less likely to commit another crime because they do not want to be punished again. Deterrence is the least likely type of punishment to be effective.

Incapacitation is where crime is deterred by punishing a criminal by incarceration into a correctional facility. Incapacitation guarentees that a criminal will not be a threat to society or able to commit any crimes if they are incarcerated. Capital punishment falls into this category of punishment. There are some conflicts with this type of punishment. Porportionality in relation to the crime committed is one of the conflicts with this type of punishment. Another conflict is once the criminal is freed, there is no guarntee that scoiety will be safe. This brings us to the last type of punishment, rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation is the most humane form of punishment. Some people feel that criminal behavior is not cause by "inherent criminality" of a person, but more so by factors their surroundings. By changing a criminal's values, personality, and removing them from the type of environment that leads to criminal behavior, the model suggests that criminals can be "treated" and possibly even "cured".

As a whole, society's overall sentencing direction is influenced by all four of these philosophies. Though political and social factors determine which one of these theories is predominate at any given time.

The way sentencing is structured is based on three entities. The Legislative, Judicial, and Administrative branches. While public opinion might be strong for that of retribution, the legislative branch determines how the punishment must be delivered, and when times of rehabilitative punishment is in strong demand, power shifts to the judicial and administrative branches.

The Legislative branch has authority in sentencing when it comes to indeterminate, determinate, or good time sentencing. Indeterminate sentencing is where a judge determines the minimum



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