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Sentencing - Principles and Purposes

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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses

th February 28 , 2011 Average of questions plus 3 points Owqausi #1 Natasha #2 Nicole #3 Essay assignment includes a description of the assignment, bring in material covered elsewhere in the course think about the readings in addition the lecture 2 weeks from today will also be relevant. It is a short routine case and read it thoroughly. Also questions related to the last lecture are on the web site. Next week John Reeves will be speaking and former U of T student and he was invited to speak to this class. He was convicted of 2 degree murder and now on parole and he will be giving you an interesting view of corrections from the perspective particularly about corrections - of someone who has been through it. Been on parole after serving 10 years and on parole for life and needs special permission to visit from Kingston. He is very open and would be happy to answer questions about the federal correctional system which he has a fair amount of experience. His job is helping lifers integrate into society as they are released from prison. Sentencing Sentencing - Principles and Purposes Three separate sentencing structures Legal (Legislation & court decisions) The sentence as it is handed down Sentences as seen and understood by the public. Current structure of sentencing in legislation Empirical issues Purposes of sentencing Factors to be considered Impact of sentences on crime Will be focusing on principles and purposes of sentencing and thing about the possibility that you should be things about 3 different ways of thinking about it: First there is the legal structure from law class and criminology, then look at the legislation and court decisions and look at the laws written by parliament interpreted by courts. Second - Somewhat independent of that are the sentences that are handed down. And independent of that you will see that the Legislations and court decision are not terribly determinant of what actually happens Third the sentences as seen an understood by the public I talked about this before. Realize that what we all know about sentencing is limited and what we know about a particular sentence is even more limited. Media person that wanted me to comment on a particular sentence and I could not comment about it without knowing about it. The point in not answering the question; I could not interpret that sentencing decision without knowing about the case and the reasons the judge gave for handing down the sentence. 1 www.notesolution.comRemember these are different things - what happens in court and what is reported to us is often very different. Current structure and legislation I want you to see the difficulties in understanding sentencing in Canada And then talking about empirical issues on sentencing and effects of sentencing and looking at different sets of principles and what factors being considered and what judges are talking about. Separating simple public opinion from more sensitive measures of public sentiment In addition to the material from earlier in the course - View of sentences: as reported in media vs. as handed down Get people thinking in a more complex fashion, they are capable of integrating more information (Costs, Anticipating release) Multiple alternatives change the overall picture (There are more possibilities than just harsh or nothing). Desire for guidance (mandatory minimums) does not necessarily mean desire for complete rigidity people want exceptions Desire for there to be some real consequences Close monitoring Consequences for non-compliance Real cases rather than general statements more likely to tolerate alternatives. Conclusion: In assessing what the public wants, ask whether the view of the public might be affected by knowledge of the impact of certain policies. Looking at public opinion issues - I think it is important to remember some of the material I talked about earlier. The use of sentences that we get from the media as compared to the and the sentences that are handed down are very different and fair amount of research done in Canada and other countries which compare peoples view of sentences as they are reported in the media newspapers, radio and television and as reported in court take groups of people and given them either a newspaper clipping of a sentencing hearing or make them read through what the judge was saying and what is interesting, people more content with the longer version of that which is what the judge actually said he handed down a particular sentence and what the reasons behind what the judge was trying to accomplish. So yy example of the media - I knew that what was expected was a comment on a controversial topic and could be easily seen as a lenient sentence. I had no idea what was actually handed down and I was not willing to do it. As Researchers have encouraged people to think of sentencing in a more complex way. They are tending to accept more of the sentences that are handed down. If people are asked to think about the costs or if the person was going to be released or if they are asked to think about some aspect of the case, people are capable of integrating that information and more likely to agree to the sentences being handed down by the Canadian Judges. We have talked about the issue of multiple alternatives all you really have a non-custodial sentence or probation sentence or a prison sentence when people are given other alternatives between probation and a prison sentence in terms of perceived punitiveness people are more willing to accept that. 2
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