CRM 1300 Chapter Notes - Chapter 17: Ronnie Lee Gardner, Homicide, American Bar Association

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18 Sep 2016
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CHAPTER 17
PROSECUTION AND PUNISHMENT
Criminal Courts and the Adversary System
Their adversary system is a prosecutor and defense attorney which are said to
vigorously contest the evidence at a trial refereed by a judge, is largely a myth
Normal Crimes and the Fate of Poor Defendants
David Sudnow developed the concept of the normal crime involving poor
defendants
Prosecutors, the Courtroom Work Group, and Plea Bargaining
Courtroom work group: consisting of all three parties realizing its best for
everyone to get through the case as fast as possible
Several elements make up a case
1. A serious offence
2. An injured victim
3. Strong evidence
4. The defendants use of a weapon
5. Defendants with serious prior records
6. A stand up victim
If a victim doesn’t fit these prosecutors often drop the charges altogether or
reduce them as part of a plea bargain
Punishment, Social Structure, and Inequality
Durkheim thought punishment reinforced social stability by clarifying social
norms and uniting conventional society against the deviants who are punished
He also argued that the social structure of a society helps determine the type of
punishment, it adopts
Collective conscience engage in repressive law
Modern societies deal with deviance through restitutive law
Economic Conditions and Punishment
George Rusche and Otto Kircheimer conducted that imprisonment increases when
unemployment increases
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Research on Unemployment and Imprisonment
Many have studied their views
The evidence is inconsistent
The mixed results suggest they overestimated the importance of unemployment
and underestimated the importance of the other factors affecting incarceration
rates
Research on the Postbellum South
Focuses on the economic conditions on the African-American experience in
the Postbellum in the south
Racial-threat theory
Most contemporary work on punishment, social structure, and inequality
focuses on class, racial/ethic, and gender differences in prosecution and
sentencing
Social Class and Legal Outcomes
To test it researchers examine the conviction and imprisonment rate and the
average sentence length of criminal defendants
It finds that the poorest defendants do not fare worse than less poor defendants
Community Context of Social Class and Sentencing
Judges and prosecutors may feel people from poor neighborhoods pose a
greater threat
John Wooldredge analyzed that of 3000 convicted felony most were from
poor neighborhoods
Impact of Race and Ethnicity
Prosecutorial Decisions
The evidence is mixed different cases find different people of different colors
charges dropped
Prosecutors more serious charges against white that commit homicide or rape
Conviction and Sentencing
Black and Latino are more likely than whites to be in prison
Blacks over whites to be treated more harshly
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