1. Sentencing is a major part of the criminal justice system. Sentencing is defined as the imposition of a criminal sanction by a judicial authority. Sentencing for adults is vital and can be a detrimental to how the criminal justice system continues to run. As stated in our text, traditional sentencing options have included imprisonment, fines, probation, and for very serious offenses, death (Schmalleger, 2017). Over times the sentencing has changed. It’s important to know where the types of sentencing started to where they are today. It is also important to know who formed concepts such as retribution, rehabilitation, and restoration. Also, it is important to understand how criminal deterrence is today and how it is viewed by society.
The article, How Much Do We Really Know About Criminal Deterrence?, discuses crime through sanctions. The article lightly touches on the work of theorist Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham. Beccaria was an Enlightenment thinker who did not like the cruelty and barbarism of the legal system in the 1700’s. Therefore types of reinforcement such as secret accusations, torture, convictions without trial and general cruel punishments were frowned upon. Beccaria found these practices offensive and he thought that they were ineffective for crime control. Beccaria believed that the punishment has to be appropriate to the crime. This came out in 1764, it is far fetched to say that his work was paved the way to what the criminal justice system is now but I would definitely say many of the theorists had some sort of influence of why the system is what it is now (Paternoster, 2010).
The next article that I felt was important was, Sanctions, Perceptions, and Crime: Implications for Criminal Deterrence. I found this article to be important for many reasons. As outsiders looking in, how well do we know the criminal justice system and the sanctions that go along with it? These three questions are asked, (1) how accurate is people’s knowledge about criminal sanctions? (2) How do people acquire and modify their subjective probabilities of punishment risk? (3) How do individuals act on their risk perceptions in specific criminal contexts? A study was conducted with these questions in mind. The results of this test are as followed; the average citizen does a reasonable job of knowing what criminal penalties are but fails to understand the probability and magnitude of penalties. Overall, there has been improvement within the deterrence tradition, which has been proven with creative empirical tests (Apel, 2013).
Apel, R. (2013). Sanctions, perceptions, and crime: implications for criminal deterrence. J Quant Criminol,29, 67-101
Paternoster, R. (2010). How much do we really know about criminal deterrence? Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 100(3).
Schmalleger, F. (2017). Criminal justice today: an introductory text for the twenty-first century. Hoboken: Pearson.
2. We are approaching a period where it is necessary to look at alternative and innovative sentencing options for offenders. Schmalleger defines alternative sentencing as “the use of court-ordered community service, home detention, day reporting, drug treatment, psychological counseling, victim-offender programming, or intensive supervision in lieu of other, more traditional sanctions such as imprisonment and fines” (Schmalleger, 2017, p. 360). Some of the many goals of alternative and innovative sentencing include reducing recidivism and the crime rate, helping offenders understand and take responsibility for their actions, lowering the amount of non-violent offender prison population. An alternative sentencing practice that is slowing gaining support is public shaming of criminals. It is believed that the public shaming because it “enhances the moral awareness among offenders, thereby building conscience and increasing inner control” (Schmalleger, 2017, p. 360).
“Problems, dramatic or not, spur innovation by encouraging decision makers to search for new and better ways of doingthings” (Sliva, 2016, p. 708). Several alternative and innovative sentencing options were created in response to state economic capacity. Policies are created to relieve the fiscal pressure by developing ways to reduce costs (Sliva, 2016). Because of tightening fiscal budgets more states are turning away from rigid tough-on-crime sentencing policies for more flexible options. Problem solving courts are a grow trend in many states.”These courts seek to address offenders’underlying criminogenic needs through community-based treatment and close supervision” (Thielo, Cullen, Cohen, &Chouhy, 2015, p. 139).
Three core elements that characterize the changing sensibility about corrections are: prison is not automatic option, offenders are no longer uniformly classified as having no worth, and offenders are now being thought of as varying in risk level (Thielo et al., 2015). Mass imprisonment is no longer the acceptable status quo and unsustainable. It is a matter of common sense to develop cost saving policies that treat low risk offenders.
Christian worldview supports the new directions of alternative and innovative sentencing. As Christians we are taught to follow the law and respect authority. Be we must also show compassion and love to our neighbor. This can be extremely difficult with a violent or sexual offender but we must still show them love and forgiveness. However, this does not mean that they do not have to be punished for their crimes. The authorities were created to punish the wrongdoers and protect the innocent. The non-violent and misdemeanor offenders deserve a quicker chance to rehabilitate and become productive members of society. One way to help with the rehabilitation is through prison ministries. Offenders, like every person and sinner need to hear about and know the love of God. They need to know that they can be forgiven and are loved by God even though they made a mistake.
Schmalleger, F. (2017). Criminal justice today: An introductory text for the twenty-first century (14th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.
Sliva, S. M. (2016). Determinants of state innovations in American sentencing and corrections policy: A systematic review. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 27(7), 702-722. https://doi.org/10.1177/0887403414556645
Thielo, A. J., Cullen, F. T., Cohen, D. M., & Chouhy, C. (2015). Rehabilitation in a red state. Criminology & Public Policy,15(1), 137-170. https://doi.org/10.1111/1745-9133.12182