How a society punishes their criminals can say a lot about the way the citizens live their lives. Here in the United States we would rather take better care of someone in prison for life than a person on the street who has never committed a crime in their life.
The philosophy and practices has changed drastically in the last 30 years. Rehabilitation was the main focus for the beginning of the 20th century. This gave way to a new found focus on justice, and fairness in the 1970s. Crime control was the next practice of sentencing, this emphasized jail time as a way to reduce the crime in a community. During the 1980s-1990s this model of crime control was very popular. The emphasis on goals of the sentencing, and corrections policies, and practices can be characterized.
Sentencing has four major goals that are normally attributed to it: deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and retribution. Retribution is from the 21 centuries model of “just deserts.” The main idea is that if someone breaks the law they should be punished. The other three uses more emphasize on protecting the public. The way they go about is how they differ. Deterrence focuses on the burdensome aspect of a punishment. This makes the offender think about what he or she is, has, or is about to do. This is to make a rational thought that the chance of getting caught is too high, not worth the risk. The idea is to make the person (specific deterrence) who may commit the crime so afraid of the punishment, and detour others (general deterrence) from committing the same crime.
Incapacitation is when a person is deprived the capacity to commit a crime due to the fact they are, well in prison. Next is rehabilitation. The goal here is to change the way an offender thinks, and acts so that they do not commit crimes any more. This is done by usually offering an education to an offender.
When all of this is combined, and put to work it creates a large work load for the corrections departments...
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