Criminal Punishment And The Criminal Justice System

1193 WordsMar 26, 20175 Pages
Few decisions in the criminal justice system apply as much influence over the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of criminal offenders as the final sentencing decision. Judges have an extensive range of sentencing options. These options range from fines, restitution, and probation to incarceration in jail or prison. For much of the 20th century, criminal sentencing practices remained largely unchanged in the United States. Over the past few decades, we have witnessed a practical revolution in criminal punishment processes. A number of different sentencing reforms have been recently expanded, resulting in a mix of different legal approaches to sentencing in the United States today. I will begin with a brief overview of sentencing…show more content…
Lastly, rehabilitation is a philosophy of punishment that stresses individual offender reform. According to this perception, the purpose of this punishment should be to address the fundamental causes of crime in order to reduce future offending. In practice, these various sentencing foundations often coincide, throughout history major changes in sentencing have often followed model changes in major philosophies of punishment. During colonial times, criminal sentencing in America was initially based on retribution and then later on deterrence (Walker, 1998). By the late 1800s, however, sentencing in America had become carefully conquered by rehabilitation. The goal of criminal punishment was to reform the offender by shifting the basic causes of crime. In order to accomplish this, criminal sentences had to be necessarily flexible to be separately reformed to the sole needs of particular offenders. This led to a system of punishment known as “indeterminate sentencing.” Sentences often consisted of wide ranges of minimum and maximum terms that could spring from a single day to a lifetime in prison. These far-reaching sentences provided maximum flexibility for determining when an offender was therefore ready to be released back into society. Judges would determine the ranges of punishment, and then release their decisions to be made by prison authorities or parole boards. Such authorities would exercise considerable discretion in
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