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…
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
• 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
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
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
• 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
o Person who is physically disable, elderly, mentally disable=
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).
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
o Talks about using the least restrictive sanctions
appropriate. We should consider less punitive options if
• 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