Truth in Sentencing

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Truth-in-sentencing debate
Learning Team B
CJA/204
November 26, 2012
Deana Bohenek

Truth-In-Sentencing Debate
Opening Argument
Truth-in-sentencing laws do not deter crime.  The federal truth-in-sentencing law guarantees that certain violent offenders will serve at least 85% of their sentence (Schmalleger, 2012).  However, if the offender acts accordingly in prison, he or she can attain parole for good behavior.  What about the victims? Victims do not want to hear this.  If an offender is sentenced for 30 years, the victim wants justice and wants to see the full 30 years served.  They do not want to see the offender getting released after 25 years.  The truth-in-sentencing laws are the judges’ guideline when choosing the sentence of the offender.  The law is a structured guideline for sentencing the offenders.  However, the judge can deviate from the guidelines if there are mitigating and aggravating circumstances.  Look at plea bargaining, this is still a possibility even though there are truth-in-sentencing laws in place.  The offender knows that if they get caught, they can plea bargain for a lesser sentence and be back out on the streets sooner. 

Let me say it again, truth-in-sentencing laws do not deter crime.  The offenders know they will get out of prison soon through a plea bargain or parole.  They know they can avoid serving the full sentence that the judge imposed on him or her. 

The only way to deter crime and reduce recidivism is to abolish the possibility of parole and ensure that the sentence the judge renders is carried out to full-term. Obviously, to take away the option for parole would mean that the prison populations would increase.  Well, we should take the funds left over from overhead to run the parole division and build more prisons to house these offenders.  The longer we keep them off the streets, the safer society will be. 

Rebuttal Argument
Each state has to look at the amount of money being spent to house each inmate they have in custody.  Because the Truth-In Sentencing Law wants to keep the offender behind bars until they complete their entire sentence/term in prison no matter what the costs are to the public.  Meaning, everyone’s hard earned income (taxes) are used to keep them in their present place of occupancy.  This law depletes the services we receive from our state revenues.  We don’t have much say in the budget spending but we do see the increase in taxes used for each state program.

I have to disagree with the statement made “The offenders know they will get out of prison sooner through a plea bargain or parole.”  Not all offenders before or during their trial will know the outcome of sentencing.  Many do not have the option for plea bargaining because plea bargaining depends on the severity of the crime committed. Instead, if the case went directly to trial, (this includes judge and jury) the accused might have a chance of plea bargaining.  No plea bargaining makes the offender eligible for a parole based on his or her behavior during incarceration and no plea bargaining being offered.  But if society had no parole system, then the correctional system will have to face overcrowding in the institutions.  The lack of Rehabilitation for said prisoner would be non-effective because there would be no programs such as work-time credit or good-time credit, which is the main reason why early release would benefit them.  With those programs the time served by offenders would be less and would allow the offenders to enter back into society.  The fear of re-entry of said offenders are the defense for keeping them locked up.  These programs should be used for offenders that have this as a first offense on their record and have shown they can be productive in today’s society.  Not all inmates are repeat offenders some are...
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