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Philosophy Of Sentencing Essay

This paper is written in an attempt to comprehend the sentencing philosophy and purpose of criminal punishment through a review of the historical parameters concerning how sentencing and punishment serve society. Sentencing is the application of justice and the end result of a criminal conviction which is applied by the convening authority; followed by the sentence, or judgement of the court on a convicted offender. What makes punishment unique to our society is the application of our moral or ethical beliefs as a whole, and by the population at large.

Throughout history, the sentencing and administration of punishments have been swift, brutal and often times ending with the death of the offender, but in our more civilized and modern society, we have seen that punishment does not necessarily mean justice. What then, is the compass that directs our judicial system to provide the best protection of its people and deliver the appropriate sanction to the guilty? Sentencing: The Ideology and Resolve of Criminal Punishment

Ancient civilizations responded to criminal activities with vigor and swiftness and the usual punishment for most offenses was death, via some sort of violent execution where the method of execution was determined by the sort of crime committed. Leniency for an offense might have been exile or banishment from the community, and given the distrust of ancient city-states and kingdoms with their neighbors, even this punishment could often end in death.

The ancient Greeks began to levy fines, property forfeitures, and imprisonment, and as civilization and society progressed, many of the methods of punishment were deemed barbaric and uncaring of the citizens of the ommunities, therefore exile and burning or beheading became flogging and mutilation, and however brutal this may have seemed, it allowed for the offender to keep their life intact.

Eventually society and the judicial process developed a system more focused on incarceration instead of corporal punishment as a deterrent to crime with the last remaining physical castigation being the death penalty, which is reserved for the most heinous of crimes (Schmalleger & Smykla, 2013). Many socialist, philosophers and legislators have debated the idea of punishment and if the weight of it supersedes the wrongful act, however, the people of our society have continued choose incarceration and other penalties to maintain the public order and deter further criminal activity.

The complexities of human nature, emotions, thought, morals and ethics have been debated for centuries, and the dilemma of sentencing another human to a form of corporal punishment, incarceration or death, requires a firm foundation in the laws of the land, tempered by years of study and dedication to the law one has sworn to uphold. The several reasons for sentencing of a crime is: Revenge, for an actual or perceived need for vengeance on a violation, usually one that is very personal and emotional in nature.

Incapacitation, which is to prevent the criminal from repeating crimes against society by placing them into a correctional facility on a long term or permanent basis. Restoration, is a form of sentencing when the convening authority is attempting to protect the victims by helping them to feel safe and secure. Deterrence is a sentence where the courts attempt to prevent the subject of a crime from offending again. Retribution, which is probably the oldest reason for sentencing was utilized for equal punishment to the crime, drawing from the old adage “eye for an eye”.

Lastly is the sentence of rehabilitation, which in societies modern view, the ideal and preferred sentence, which integrate the offender back into society as a productive member (Marson, 2015). As society continues to advance and evolve, so will the ethic which dictate the how crime is perceived by the populace as well as the types of punishment administered to the criminals. Over time we have seen the death penalty decline in frequency from one state to another as more courts favor the philosophy of incapacitation or rehabilitation as a means of protecting society from wrongdoers.

What are the considerations the sentencing authority looks at when passing judgement on a convicted offender? Remorse for the offense and apology to the victims, court and society are greatly scrutinized and regarded in the sentencing stage of a trial, however, they are not to be used as a replacement for punishment, but may be regarded for leniency. Remorse and apologies have been ingrained into our psyche beginning in childhood, where a simple “I am sorry”, is a request for forgiveness and can mend many broken fences.

For the victims involved, an apology can be the start of the healing process and closure for crimes of an intense emotional nature (Bibas & Bierschbach, 2004). Fortunately our society is not limited to just incarceration or death, but there are several options available to the court system. The sentencing authority can implement a monetary fine, community service, house arrest or even probation or time served (Schmalleger & Smykla, 2013). In many ways, even after almost 3,000 years, our justice system is not too far removed from the ancient Greek city-state of Athens, and many wonder where we will be in another 1,000

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