answers to questions from March 14th

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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses

14 March 2011 1. The real problems with sentencing have almost nothing to do with the severity of sentences. Comment on this assertion. Some of the problems with sentencing are in regard of given the right sentence to the right offender. There are many things to take into consideration when deciding a sentence for an offender because all offences are different and have different factors that contributed to it. Another problem with sentencing is the consequences of sentencing on the offender and the community. The state has to invest more in rehabilitation programs to help offender not fall back recidivism , and integrate well into the society Other problems included inconsistency and can easily shift to excessive uniformity Severity of sentences may be a problem but only to a certain degree. Not all offenders are the same, what may be a severe sentence for one offender may not be the same for another offender, so then its not about severity its about the right sentence depending on the individual. So severity does partly play a role in the problems with sentencing. This also relates to a very important issue in sentencing in regards to proportionality, the sentence has to be proportionate the crime committed and the system faces great disparity on this issue, since some judges may take into consideration the character of the offender as well. Sentencing has numerous purposes and principals which were discussed in classes. Sometimes the severity of a sentence can help determine to which extent those purposes will be fulfilled. So severity could be one of the problems of sentencing but not the only one. But another factor which could make sentencing harder is how do we decide which crimes are severe and which are not. 2. How does the manner in which sentences are handed down have important implications for decisions at other parts of the criminal justice system? How do decisions at these other stages affect sentencing decisions? 3. It is sometimes asserted that two intelligent judges could hand down very different sentences in the same case and that each could, under sentencing laws as they currently exist in Canada, justify their (very different) sentences. How might this assertion be correct? Illustrate your answer using a real or hypothetical example. As stated in the code, sentencing has numerous purposes and principals which a judged can look upon to base his judgement. The assertion here above is correct because a judge can easily concentrate more on one of the principals and based his judgement upon it, while another judge on the same case could base his judgment on another principle of sentencing and end up with a very different sentence. This is one of the problems which the system in Canada faces which cause complaints of disparity in the system and raise the notion of judge shopping.
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