Punishment and Sentencing Paper

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Punishment and Sentencing Paper
Garrett LeGrange
September 17, 2010

There are many different philosophies that are in use in the court systems when determining what sort of punishment will be imposed on someone who is found guilty of committing a crime. These philosophies are in use in both the adult courts and juvenile courts. The juvenile court system is similar to the adult courts, but there are many differences between the two. Both court systems try and keep crime from happening and both courts sentence those found guilty to some sort of punishment through the punishment philosophy that the court determines is a suitable approach for preventing future crime.

Deterrence is the first punishment philosophy. Deterrence is the philosophy that if fear of punishment for committing crimes is present, then crimes are less likely to be committed. Deterrence in today's society is more for police and their presence in the community to prevent or slow down crime. The idea of deterrence also can be helped through punishment of crimes to be carried out swiftly and being a punishment that will make others think twice before committing the same crime. With the philosophy of deterrence, people are going to be less likely to commit a crime if they are more than likely going to be caught committing the crime, and they will be punished for committing the crime. The adult court systems rely on deterrence to come from punishments people found guilty are sentenced to. Punishments should fit the crime and when punishments are severe, most people will reconsider committing the same crime in fear that incarceration will result. Juvenile courts use the threat of punishment as a deterrent for minors that commit crimes.

Rehabilitation is another punishment philosophy. In this philosophy, people that are found guilty of committing crimes might need to have a change in behavior to prevent a person from committing future crimes. Under this philosophy people who commit crimes do so because they do not have a correct set of behaviors and must have their behaviors modified to not commit future crimes. Adult courts sentence some people that are found guilty of crimes to rehabilitation to attempt to prevent these people from committing crimes again. Juvenile courts also use rehabilitation to try and keep crimes from being repeated. With rehabilitation new behaviors are learned to teach the difference in what is right and what is wrong so that when faced with another decision as to whether or not to commit another crime, the person who is rehabilitated will not make the same choice in committing the crime again.

The philosophy of retribution is the thought that when a person commits a crime they should be held accountable for committing the crime. While being held accountable has many different definitions, most often retribution can be defined as paying a fine, doing some sort of community service, or being incarcerated. With this philosophy, courts impose fines, sentence someone to perform a certain amount of time to bettering the community, and even sentence the guilty to spending time in jail. With retribution, the public's desire for revenge against those who commit crimes is fulfilled by the punishment the guilty receive. Juvenile courts use many different types of punishment in an attempt to prevent juveniles from committing crimes that may lead to incarceration.

The philosophy of incapacitation is that those found guilty of committing crimes should be removed from society and incarcerated to prevent them from committing further crimes. When other approaches have failed to stop individuals from committing crimes, incapacitation serves as a tool to prevent crime. When all other approaches have failed to stop crimes from being committed, removing the individuals from society seems to be the only way to prevent that person from committing crimes in the streets. The incarceration of individuals is somewhat of a last resort to try...
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