Criminal Justice Acts in England & Wales

Topics: Crime, Criminal justice, Criminal law Pages: 4 (1415 words) Published: February 26, 2012
“The first five Criminal Justice Acts of the century were spaced out over nearly 50 years, from 1925 to 1972, whereas the last five have come in less than 20 years since 1972 and the current Act is the third in only five years” (Davies, et al., 2010:29). There have been many important legislative changes affecting the criminal justice system since the 1990s. Many of these provided numerous reforms to sentencing, creating a systematic process. There are three legislative changes that could be considered the most significant to the criminal justice system today: the Criminal Justice Act 1991, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, and the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The Criminal Justice Act 1991 (CJA 1991) was introduced through the 1990 White Paper: “Crime, Justice and Protecting the Public” (Davies, et al., 2010:30). It was well known as a “far-reaching systematic reform of sentencing” (Davies, et al., 2010:30). The Act’s aim was to improve the consistency of the current sentencing policy of the time and for sentences to be proportionate to the offense. At the time, it was understood that the best way to accomplish this was by emphasize the already established sentencing framework of “just deserts.” Section 29 reestablished the concept of “just deserts,” or punishing proportionate to the current offense without taking previous or possible future offences into account (except for certain circumstances). The concept of “just deserts” was widely criticized due to the fact that sentencers were unable issue a sentence that reflected the frequency or history of the offender. Later, the Criminal Justice Act 1993 (CJA 1993) abolished Section 29 of CJA 1991, and allowed the court to consider all offences before the court. The CJA 1991 also implemented the use of unit fines. These unit fines were a system where sentencers allocated points based on the severity of the committed offense. These points also took into account the offender’s income and finances,...
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