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SOC209H5 (195)
Lecture

Sentencing and Incarceration

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC209H5
Professor
Paula Maurutto
Semester
Fall

Description
Sentencing and Incarceration How do judges decide on a sentence? • 1. Judicial discretion 2. Judges have certain parameters -direction given in the law -rules and principles on choice of disposition -minimum or mandatory punishment -offenders characteristics -mitigating circumstances are taken into account when making decisions -aggravating circumstances 3. the personal characteristics of the judge -makes a big difference, lawyer prefer certain judges • The Sentencing Process When sentencing a convicted offender the judge relies on: 1. Pre-sentence report -once judge is guilty this is written -contains info on offender: all previous offenses, education, employment, family relations, leisure activity, financial records -go out to community and interview people who know offender 2. a joint submission by the Crown prosecutor and defense lawyer recommending a sentence, usually the result of a plea bargain -between 95 and 98% of the time will impose a plea bargain -very important process 3. seriousness of the offense 4. Mitigating and aggravating factors involved in the offense -does the offender have children? is it a drug problem? hate motivated crime? history of violence all are taken into consideration • Fines 1. May ised a lone or in combination with other sanctions Rarely used in combination with a prison sentence -83% are vehicle fine? Are fines fair? 1. used with low risk offenders 2. problem is that 1 in 5 jail issues are because they can’t pay he fine 3. affects minority groups most 4.ability to pay may be included in pre sentence report -sometimes if custody is being considered • Probation 1. absolute and conditional discharge -on probation, if you ,meet conditions than you get a discharge, if you don’t meet them than you get a harsher penalty back in court 2. suspended sentence -could be because of probation Conditions of Probation -most frequently imposed sentence -max duration for just probation is three years -could be long term supervision probation -based on the idea that offenders are not actually dangerous to society, using provincial probation service -impose about 40-50 conditions, hard not to break -e.g.. drug conviction, out on probation, forgot time of date changed for probation meeting/treatment, he was arrested for not showing up -while on probation, offender abides on a whole set of conditions, some are mandatory Mandatory: 1. no firearms 2. stay in jurisdiction 3. report to probation officer 4. report address and job changes 5. stay away from criminal associates -this one is hard because sometimes family members are criminals, sometimes someone you are with on the street is, you never know Optional 1. Drug counseling 2. stay away from children 3. community service 4. rehabilitation programs 5. long term supervision • Aboriginal People and Sentencing Are over-represented n prison: 1. more likely to be denied bail and then sentenced to prison 2. more likely to be jailed for non-payment of fines 3. less likely to receive probation -has to do with social circumstances, e.g.. if your family has to with criminal history and you are not suppose to be with anyone who is a “criminal” • Sentencing and Healing Circles -sentencing alternatives 1. combines traditional and aboriginal community justice with western legal system 2. judge has final authority -but hears recommendation from community 3. recommendations are based on participation of victim, family, friends, respected elders, police, prosecution and defense -so if you have an aboriginal offender, sending them to AA for a alcohol addiction problem may not be good because it is part of Western philosophy unless it is for the specific context of aboriginal people it most likely won’t work because of cultural clashes Use of sentencing circles A. v. Joseyounen (!995) 1. accused must have deep roots in the community 2. Elders are respected nonpolitical community leaders are willing to participate 3. victim is not suffering from battered wife syndrome, else counseling and support, 4.disputed facts must be resolved i advance 5. Approval of court 6. minor offenses 7. all parties are willing to participate e.g. 13 year old vandalized park, were arrested, sentencing circle was made to talk about the offense and the behavior and the consequences, get them to understand impact on community, a lot of gratifications to fix things, sentenced to so many community service hours, hoping this will change their behaviors and let them understand that they are part of a community and stop them from acting this way in the future • Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Gun- Related crimes New Legislation, Federal Government, May 2006 1.Criminal use of firearms -not possession but using may impose a four year sentence -maximum is life sentence 1. restitution -perform some sort of compensation for community or business 2. community service order -these do not involve incarceration • Different levels of imprisonment 1. Provincial facility -for minimum security, incarcerated for less than 2 years 2. Federal facility -more than 2 years go somewhere more secure History first federal
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