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Lecture 5

SOC219- lecture 5.doc

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC219H5
Professor
Natasha Myers
Semester
Summer

Description
SOC219:Lecture 5 Term paper: o Talk about restorative justice process, or alternative measures. Talk about the studies- whose most likely to know whether the offence is likely to happen again? What information is useful for the police officer to think about when making the decision to prosecute or not. o Thesis- would be that it is a complex process- number of plp are involved in making the decision- not exactly a thesis that is proven throughout the essay o Intro- in the paper, it will be demonstrated that there are complexity around the decision-making processes… Sentencing: What is the objective? • Sentencing structure- can see various diff things. • At the legal element- court decisions, you see one way how sentencing is looked at. Another way to look at it is, how does sentencing look like to the general public. What does the public think? • Public tends to think sentencing is lenient, but it varies, and public opinion shifts with more info provided. • BUT what does sentencing look like when handed down in court? You have more context info but sentencing looks interesting in the newspaper. • Sentencing is more than just harsh or lenient; there are other descriptions in between. • When things become mandatory, there is a concern about excessive rigidity. Public believes in some level of flexibility and some level of discretion. • Public is looking for real consequences = want the state to be watching someone who is released from the jail so make sure they don’t offend again. And if someone violates these condition, the public wants some sort of consequences / sanction of punishment for that. • When speaking in generality, it does not provide accuracy in publics opinion. Need to give detailed examples. Case: Court of Appeal- SOC219:Lecture 5 o Judges talked about sentencing that everybody know. Sentencing is controversial in terms of what happens on the ground. If you have a panel of judges, given with same information, they would come up with same sentences- BUT NOT True. Judge shopping- wait till a more preferable judge to appear and that’s whom the accused goes to be sentenced. o Principles- meaningless b/c if every judge does not think about it in the same way, then what meaning does it have? o Court indicates that if court does not act, there’s a risk of losing publics confidence. Structure of sentencing o Before 1996, judges had very little guidance when making decisions. o Judge made law= courts making decisions. o Has a culture where each individual offender is sentenced based on the circumstances of their offence o Canada also had a sentencing culture of restraint. Restraint means in the use of the CJS in generally. It is expensive, and time consuming so we want to keep it for the more serious offences. SO we only impose custody for the shortest amount of period of time that is appropriate. o Culture of restraint- so history of skepticism about the utility of prisonment. We seem to be skeptical that imprisonment is the best way to respond to crime. o All comes back to public opinion where vast majority think sentencing are lenient. • Reports all saying we need to continue to exercise restraint. Imprisonment is available but we want to look at every other way that is available before imprisonment. • There's difficulty in sentencing- whether the case should be given 30 days or 6 years? • Severity- are we punishing someone in custody from doing it again, to get better? Criminal code- section 718 deals with sentencing. o OPTIONS: Maybe we want to sentence in order to deter everyone else from doing this crime. Or incapacitate the offender and keep them away from society. Maybe rehabilitate them or treat them so they don’t commit the SOC219:Lecture 5 crime again. Maybe we want to provide reparations so ways to repair the crime that has happened. • Some contradict each other. How can we deter somebody and then rehabilitate them. When sentencing someone for robbery, would it be diff from sentencing someone for sexual assault. Can we sentence all of these options? There is no guidance for judges to how to choose the sentence. • Fundamental principle sentence should be equal to the seriousness of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender. • Do we think about just the seriousness, or about the levels of intention (maybe they didn’t intend that much harm), do we think about the consequences of the crime, proportional may mean diff things for diff judges. HOW do we measure proportionality? • Aggravating and mitigating factors. There are certain factors that make the offence qualitatively worse or qualitatively not bad. • Aggravating factors offence is worse if it is motivated by bias, prejudice, when there is an intimate relationship, if the victim is a child under 18 , if they violated the trust with the victim ( a teacher and student , or doctor and patient) • Other factors that are not listed but may also make an offence worse: o Person who is physically disable, elderly, mentally disable= vulnerable people. o Multiple victims o Level of violence involved, how hurt is somebody o What impact does it have on a victim o Whether the offender committed a criminal offence before • They don’t list any mitigating factors in the criminal code. • What are mitigating factors or offences that may make an offence less bad? o Self defense o First time offender- it suggest that you may have more rehabilitative potential, and you have been a good person before that, and that just going through the process is bad enough for a first offence o Poor Mental health SOC219:Lecture 5 o If someone is provoked, or pressured to an offence o Remorseful- did you plead guilty, are you saying sorry ( Diff cultures remorse differently). • Parity o Depending on where you are in the country has an influence on how you receive a sentence. o Parity- sentence should be similar for similar offences in similar circumstances. • Restraint o Talks about using the least restrictive sanctions appropriate. We should consider less punitive options if appropriate. • VIS • Allow victims at the time of sentencing to talk about the effects of the offence. They are not allowed to make recommendations about the sentencing, but can talk about the consequence and how the offence has changed their lives. • VIS- very few victims decide whether they would like to complete a VIS statement. Among the small number of plp, about 10 – 20% of the cases are filling out VIS statement. They tend to be in more serious crimes, where the victim experiences harm not for walmart theft. ALSO in cases where victim feels fear (if your house got broken, how it impacted how secure and safe you feel then after) . • Those who choose not to do a VIS – not enough time to complete a VIS because someone pleads guilty right away and so does not go through trial so VIS would not make an impact of sentencing. Some think it is not
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