Impact of Sentencing Guidelines

Topics: Prison, Crime, Criminal law Pages: 8 (2422 words) Published: October 3, 2011
Running Head: THE IMPACT OF SENTENCING GUIDELINES

The Impact of Sentencing Guidelines on the Criminal Justice System

Talisha L Alexander

Survey of Public Safety Issues, Theory, and Concepts

Abstract

Our criminal-justice system has an obligation to impose just sentences. The United States Sentencing Commission is the result of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which sought to change the federal criminal sentencing policy and practice abolishing parole at the federal level. Even though there were laws created to ensure that sentencing was fair, the disparity amongst sentencing from state to state, and judge to judge provided proof that sentencing was indeed black or white. To eliminate the possibility of being unjust, the government became involved creating guidelines on the punishment rendered based on the type or types of crime an individual committed- sentencing guidelines that set terms befitting the crime.

Impact of Sentencing Guidelines on the Criminal Justice System

Punishment for crimes committed is the way of the people, such as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” It is an anger-based approach seeking revenge, a way to soften the blow of the harsh reality of crime. Most often, the punishment is imprisonment. In colonial times, whipping, fines, banishment, and public humiliations, such as time in the stocks, were common punishments for the least serious crimes. Following English practice, repeat offenders and those guilty of more serious offenses were sentenced to capital punishment.

It is not fair for an individual to inflict pain and harm on another, threaten their safety, invade their space, and in some cases take a life, and remain free or receive punishment that does not fit the crime committed. However, criminals should and do have to pay for their actions, just or unjust. In line with the criminal justice system, a person commits a crime, and an investigation begins. The perpetrator is arrested, charged, jailed, trialed, and then judged by a group of their peers, with a judge rendering a sentence based off the offense. However, the sentencing, according to law created by man, must fit the crime as the law defies the use of cruel and unusual punishment. Nevertheless, if there are no laws setting the standard, how can sentences rendered be determined to be befitting of the crime? There has to be a standard, protocol, a practice in place that determines what is right and wrong, just or unjust.

To eliminate the possibility of being unjust, the government became involved creating guidelines on the punishment rendered based on the type or types of crime an individual committed- sentencing guidelines that set terms befitting the crime. “Our criminal-justice system has an obligation to impose just sentences.  Any given sentence cannot be just, however, unless it takes the individuality of the defendant into account in a way that is impossible under the mechanical system currently in place (Grong, 2002, p 1).” This paved the way for Congress to create the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) whose purpose is to establish sentencing policies and practices for the federal criminal justice system and assure the ends of justice by promulgating detailed guidelines prescribing the appropriate sentences for offenders convicted of federal crimes (USSC, 2009, p 2).

The United States Sentencing Commission is the result of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which sought to change the federal criminal sentencing policy and practice abolishing parole at the federal level. Prior to 1984, there was no uniformity in sentencing, but was rather at the discretion of the judge as he or she saw fit, which of course could bring biasness to any case having the potential to render any sentencing unjust due prejudices. “As judges came from different backgrounds, and...

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