Sentencing Models

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|Kaplan University | |Sentencing Models | |Determinate, Indeterminate, and Mandatory Sentencing |

|Christopher Boone | |1/1/2012 |

The nation’s sentencing model consists of three general types of sentences. These three different types are determinate, indeterminate, and mandatory sentencing. Each model differs from the next and each offers its own positive influence on society. Similarly, each offers its short comings, as well.

Across the nation several states have began to enact indeterminate sentences. These are also being called open-ended sentences. This is typically an attempt to impose longer sentences and to increase restrictions on high-risk criminals and sex offenders who have already served full sentences and are about to be released back in to society (Durling, 2006). Commonly, offenders are assigned a minimum sentence and a maximum sentence length. Around ninety days prior to the offenders minimum sentence is about to end a hearing takes place in front of an Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board. Here they will assess the offender’s probability of recidivism (Durling, 2006). At this board if the offender is found to be likely to re-offend he/she will be sentenced to a minimum of term of no longer than two years. This process of being reviewed is repeated until one of two things happens; either the offender “wins” the review board and is deemed ready to return to society, or the maximum term for the sentence has been served. Once released the offender has to meet certain restrictions. If these conditions are not met the offender may be returned to prison for violating his or her parole (Durling, 2006).

One of the advantages of the use of the indeterminate sentencing model is that it is an openly criminal measure and is not masked as civil prevention (Durling, 2006). There are other forms of legislation that are created as civil prevention laws, but the purpose behind them are actually criminal prosecution. Another advantage is that the state has to show that a criminal is still dangerous in order to justify keeping him or her in prison (Durling, 2006). This allows criminal with no risk or a low risk of recidivism to complete only the minimum sentence and not consume unnecessary tax dollars by serving longer sentences than required. This could prevent injury or other harm from high-risk offenders to the low-risk offenders and reduce the cost of medical treatment for prisoners as well.

Another advantage of the indeterminate structure is that it provides an incentive to those incarcerated offenders to genuinely reform and improve his or her chances of gaining the earliest possible release. Not only will the offender receive an earlier release, they may also receive fewer restrictions upon their parole (Durling, 2006). Similarly, this structure also enables officials to apply more restrictions upon release to allow for more control over higher risk- low-risk offenders (Durling, 2006).

One issue that the structure of indeterminate sentencing first faced was the lack of treatment for offenders in prison. Many claimed that introducing programs to help rehabilitate criminal offenders was not cost effective, but the reality of it all was that the inmates were not being rehabilitated and it was likely to lead to an endless cycle of lost hearings by prisoners who would be unable to prove that they had shown some sort of improvement. This cycle is referred to as the vicious cycle of indeterminate sentencing....
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