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Lecture 6

SOC219- lecture 6.doc

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Natasha Myers

SOC219: Lecture 6 Imprisonment • Objective of sentencing- incapacitation/ incarcerating- locking up in an institution Challenges with the use of incarceration: o Sentencing long term tends to happen to old age offenders, or with long history of offenders- age crime curve climbs during the teenage years and peaks early 20’s and during 30’s crime rate declines consistently. By the time were imposing a long-term sentence on a person who is in the 30, they would have eventually declined in their crime rate naturally. (Most plp stop committing crime by age 30) o Frequent offenders- a lot of crime is committed by a small number of plp so if we incarcerate those small number of plp then we would see a decline in crime rate. BUT it is actually that most plp commits an offence at some point in their life. It’s naïve to believe that it’s only a small number that actually commits crime. o We have tools to predict whose likely to commit crime- but not accurate. o Act of being incarcerated has criminogenic effect- so more likely to reoffend if sent to prison than if sent to the community. o Implicit logic- make sense that if we lock somebody then they cant make any offence, but it is expensive, and the number of challenges we have, it is not easy to estimate the cost if that offender was out in the community- hard to make cost benefit analysis STUDY: o Changes in incarcerated rates- some areas more and some less incarceration. o They looked at index crimeDefinition of that crime is constant, study employed usual factors – age, sex, and education, what offence. They tried to look at crime rate in these diff areas with high and low incarceration rate. o Result no effect in crime rate whether it had high or low incarceration rate. o Does it make sense to continue with high incarceration, if we already locked up the high crime offenders? SOC219: Lecture 6 o Youth- young plp tend to commit crime in group- so incarcerating one person in the group is not going to reduce the crime that other members of the group can commit unless you catch all of them. o 62% who were predicted to be high rate offenders turned out to be not high risk offenders- We’re wrong so were underlying the logic of why were locking up them in the first place STUDY: o Looked at crime act done by plp released from prison. 30 of them went on to commit serious offence in which 3 were in prison because they committed a serious offence before. All of those in prison are those who are more likely to commit crime- high risk. BUT turns out not true, risk prediction tools are not good. o Incapacitation- every single person who goes into custody will come back out at some point- so we should we concerned about whether it is likely they will re offend- and sending them to prison will make them more likely to reoffend. o Rehabilitation: can make a person better- change them to a law- abiding citizen. • Programs  we’re able to link the offender to appropriate programs. How well can we rehabilitate somebody? IS prison the right place to rehabilitate somebody. o i.e. a person who has violet history and during custody they are going to anger management class. All of your fellow prison mates are attending the same place. Teaching them how to deal with anger management in prison is not that effective. o Have to wait a long time to get into the program, even longer than what your sentence is. So should we sentence someone longer just so they can get that treatment? WHAT does this do to proportionality of sentence? Not proportional this way. COSTS: • Relying on imprisonment costs a lot of money. SOC219: Lecture 6 Consequences of deterrence, incapacitation: o Reaffirming to public that criminal law is the main tool to protect from crime. But we have to member it was only a crime because someone wrote it down as it is illegal and only because of that it is crime. o We have a view that it is the CJS, police, judges, and if they acted diff, then we can change the crime rate. SO view that the CJS has failed us. o I.e. if you want to deter somebody, are you likely to pick a more severe sentence? If you wanted to rehabilitate somebody, are you likely to pick a community based sentence?  SO no uniform approach in the criminal code- no guideline in how you’re supposed to think about the factors, how does the judge go in about picking the days or number a person is sentenced. NO clear description in the legislation. So whether you’re sentenced to custody varied based on which province you’re from.  Restraint- is it still held up as an ideal of imprisonment?  There are multiple goals of sentencing and some are contradictory. SO left with the problem of whose going to sort this out then. o Challenges: o Problem in determining the purpose of sentence o No guideline for the range of an offence only a few have maximum and few have minimum. o Judges aren’t even provided with enough guideline to determine an offence o No guideline in deciding how serious an offence is. i.e breaking into a home is that more serious than an assault? How do we decide what’s more serious? o What type of factors are judges allowed to consider and are not allowed to consider when deciding a sentence o How is judge supposed to know when to sentence someone outside to the community and when to sentence in custody? Disparity  • Ideas of sentencing, what theory you impose, how much weight SOC219: Lecture 6 do you give particular factors. • How do judges sentence differently? They have no info about how other judges sentenced? They cannot compare their sentence with other judges. They don’t have a lot of info about what any body else is doing. • There’s always going to be differences in how judges come up with their sentences so no point in getting rid of disparity. BUT need to Try to get rid of unwarranted disparity. Presentence • Need to look at the victims choices, whether the victim served any time in presentence, did they plea bargaining, is the sentence a result of joint submission where crown and counsel both stand up and agree on a sentence. • If there is no type of standard, how do you evaluate a sentence? IF you have no idea of the avg, no standard to compare it to, or have no idea in the process of coming to the sentence. Sentencing structure • Decisions of court of appeal try to give some help to the decision of judges. • Custody of sentence looks diff across plp and provinces. • We need to think about the role of the parliament has, should we leave it to the judge to create how to sentence or should we leave it to the legislation • When talking to judgesthey are going to weigh diff, which info is imp and relevant, they are going to pursue diff purposes of sentences, and they have no guidelines, so 10 diff judges can all give diff sentences and they all can be right. Minnesota, offence history - GRID • Rather than providing rules to tell judges, they created a table. They listed diff severity of offences. Judge has to look at what is the severity of the offence is according to the book. You get a severity score, and then across the top, they have a criminal history record score. So they come up with a sentence based on the two factors. • Is this overly restricting? Plp are going to be sentenced approx. the same way; judges have very little range to choose the sentence. If they want to deviate from that, they are required to SOC219: Lecture 6 provide reasons. • Sexual sentence tends to have a higher sentence and has an entirely separate grid to deal with sexual crimes. • Ranges are presumptions, so sentence can change with reasons. • If the legislations have mandatory minimum, the sentences in the grid would be the mandatory minimum. Sentencing commissions • Group of plp who study sentencing, and think about how to propose sentences • By providing guidelines, that would be good enough rather than a grid. • If they look at all offences at the same time, this may result in a thorough examination, and can end up with a sentence that is more rational because your looking at the sentence in more general. • This way you create a group of plp who understand sentencing, • Strength of guidelines are they just suggestions or do they have to abide by the guidelines? • Issues with guidelines judges don’
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