Sentencing: A Reference Handbook

Sentencing: A Reference Handbook

Sentencing: A Reference Handbook

Sentencing: A Reference Handbook

Synopsis

Sentencing: A Reference Handbook offers a complete overview of the complex sentencing procedures devised by the federal government and each of the 50 states.

Too lenient? Too harsh? Biased against minorities and the poor? Too easily influenced by public opinion or defiantly nonresponsive to it? The process of determining punishment for convicted criminals in the United States has no end of critics from across the political spectrum. But exactly how are sentences determined in state and federal courts? Have efforts to deter crime through harsher sentences proven effective? From the Code of Hammurabi (1800 BC) to the present, Sentencing: A Reference Handbook follows the historical evolution of the process of criminal punishment, then focuses on the U.S. judicial system to show how American sentencing laws have changed in response to surges of different types of crime, or to other factors such as prison overcrowding.

To help readers understand the complex issue of criminal sentencing, this informative volume describes the major sentencing procedures used in American courts (determinate, indeterminate, guidelines-based, and mandatory), highlighting the merits and flaws of each with well-documented cases and examples. Coverage includes a range of contentious issues, including the disproportionate application of the death penalty, sex offender laws, punishing the addicted and the mentally ill, and balancing punishment with rehabilitation.

Excerpt

Sentencing: A Reference Handbook examines the sentencing process in detail. Chapter 1 defines sentencing and its goals. Sentencing is the application of one or more punishments/ sanctions following a criminal conviction. These punishments include fines and/or incarceration, or placement under the supervision of probation officers. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 restated a number of sentencing objectives that have guided sentencing judges in their leniency or harshness toward convicted defendants. Some of those objectives have been made explicit by various states and local jurisdictions in past years, while others have been implicitly incorporated into prevailing sentencing guidelines. Some of the more important functions and goals of sentencing are (1) to promote respect for the law, (2) to reflect the seriousness of the offense, (3) to provide just punishment for the offense, (4) to deter the defendant from future criminal conduct, (5) to protect the public from the convicted offender, and (6) to provide the convicted defendant with education and/or vocational training or other rehabilitative relief. The purposes of sentencing include punishment or retribution, deterrence, custodial monitoring or incapacitation, and rehabilitation. Four different types of sentencing schemes will be described: indeterminate, determinate, presumptive or guidelines-based, and mandatory. The differences between state and federal sentencing policies will be examined. A history of sentencing in the United States is presented as well.

Accused persons have established, constitutional rights under the law, which are examined here. The sentencing process often involves a formal sentencing hearing in which both convicted offenders and victims have the opportunity to influence the sentencing decision. This process is examined in detail. Both . . .

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