Prison Term Policy Recommendation

Due to the high rate of the armed robbery cases in the United States, the legislature is going to vote for a bill which will double the maximum prison sentence for the armed robbery convicts. In its making, the bill seems appealing to the citizens since it will reduce the rate of armed robbery cases that have been on the rise. This is because the risk of imprisonment will become extremely high. Furthermore, the bill will be guarding the interests of the citizens by ensuring a long term removal of criminals from society and also threatening potential lawbreakers. However, the bill has several loopholes that might eventually result to more harm than good to the society in the long run. This research paper is therefore aimed at analyzing the double sentence bill proposed by the legislature and its effectiveness in recognizing compensation, assistance and fairness to the victim of crime (James, 2010).

Armed robbery has been defined in many terms but the most accurate definition is provided by the Blacks Law Dictionary which defines armed robbery as  the taking of property from person or presence of another by use of force or by threatening use of force while armed with a dangerous weapon (Blacks Law Dictionary, 1856). Other definition of armed robbery in simplified terms describes the term as the taking of goods or money in possession of another from his or her person or immediate presence, by force or intimidation (Feldenkrais, 2010).

The legislation usually summarizes the guidelines for sentencing which are based on the offences committed. Such guidelines and laws include the minimum, maximum as well as compulsory times for imprisonment and the least to the highest and mandatory fines. In the past, sentencing practices were usually intensely embedded in the societys shared values and customs in relation to offense deviancy or crime. The original ideas of criminology argued that offenders deserved suffering and pain to pardon them of the sin that was associated with crime. However, the enlightenment age has come with new ideas on armed robbery sentencing. The modern principals of deviancy and crime are based on restricting the possibility of the perpetrator to harm society further. This is joined with damages of crime and the treatment of the victim and the offender. Criminality is now met with penalty and rehabilitative methods. Sentencing is now based on five goals deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation, incapacitation and restoration. The call by the legislature for double sentences to offenders of any armed robbery identifies the society as the victim, the call for better societal effort in sentencing, but it lacks several aspects of compensation, fairness and injured partys assistance. It fails to address the five goals of sentencing as described below (Oppapers, 2010).

Retribution entails the victim as well as the societys call for revenge against the offense and the criminal. It should be the earliest response to criminal acts (James, 2010).  Incapacitation, on the other hand, is usually the second aim of sentencing which involves removing the risk of more harm to the society by the criminal. It entails restraint which is not equal to rehabilitation or punishment. The proposed double sentence by the legislature has a foundation in incapacitation but may result in the warehousing of prisoners in deterrence a proactive measure is employed by the law which is usually in response to probable future crimes. Deterrence uses threat of punishment in convincing citizens that criminal acts are not beneficial. Contrary, rehabilitation attempts to reform or change the criminal to a better citizen. Rehabilitation is not only practice but also responsive. It is reactive in that it is done in response to a crime that has been committed and it is proactive in that it transforms the criminal that he or she cannot commit any other crime. Finally, restoration aims at restoring the functioning of the victims to the pre-crime state (Oppapers, 2010).

Even though the legislative recommendation for stiffer punishment for the armed robbery criminal, in doubling minimum compulsory sentencing could be the right action for reducing the pace in the commission of armed robbery, several elementary goals of efficient sentencing have not been addressed.Reprisal to society could be seen as the robbery the criminal compensates for the offense through contribution over time. Incapacitation is attained as the lawbreaker is detached from the society therefore cutting his or her capability to commit consequent harm. Deterrence (direct) may be accomplished as the lawbreaker views the danger of increased imprisonment as uneven to the gain they may attain through armed robbery. General deterrence could be achieved when likely offenders are discouraged from committing the offense based on the disparity of harsher punishments with the impending benefits of committing armed robbery. The proposed legislation does not comprise the last two elements of efficient and effective sentencing. In this proposal, the rehabilitation of criminals is not tackled and recuperative measures have not been included. Without these two elements of effective sentencing, the process of imprisonment cannot achieve its goals of eliminating or minimizing the rates of armed robbery crimes in the United States (Marsh, Cochrane  Melville, 2010).

     To attain the optimal benefits for society, victims and the criminal, the elements of rehabilitation and restorative measures ought to be included in the proposed legislation so as to combat the occurrence of armed robbery in the society. Otherwise, the bill will eventually result to a situation which is even worse than it is already because the non-rehabilitated criminals will still continue committing armed robbery once they have completed their jail terms since there will be no behavior change in their character. Furthermore, the restorative measures that ensure that the criminal continues with the kind of life they lived before crime will not be available and the only option for the released criminal will be to continue committing armed robbery (William, 2010).
William (2010) predicts a situation whereby, if the bill is passed and becomes law, there will be more congestion in the jail cells as more prisoners will be finding their way to the docks more likely than expected. This is for the reason that there will be non-rehabilitated criminals in the society who are likely to create more breeds of criminals and continue with further advanced criminal acts. He therefore suggests that the legislature should first consider the future long term effects of the otherwise appealing bill and assess the benefits versus the problems associated with it before passing it to become law. According to him, it is not rational to have the bill passed if the short-term benefits it will bring in the society will later result to more future problems (William, 2010).

In addition, the disparity of the proposal in relation to prison sentencing and the judicial system needs to be examined critically so as to arrive at accurate recommendations. Sentence disparity is the phrase used to explain the differences that occur when defendants who have been convicted of similar crimes receive different sentences. An illustration of sentencing disparity is in case a three-time criminal in one ruling receives five years for the offence of armed robbery, while a 3-time criminal in a different jurisdiction receives fifteen years for the equal offense. Sentencing disparity which has not been addressed in the proposed bill for double sentence to robbery with sentence is unfair.  In a proper judicial system, there ought to be equal sentence for the same offense. The judicial system should make a formal sentencing score that all judges should follow when dealing with armed robbery sentences.  Such a score must be equal for all jurisdictions throughout the states and should be made a rule of thumb. By doing this, the legislature will ensure that every punishment that is received by the armed robbery offender is harmonized throughout the states to avoid discrepancies that are already discouraging the application of the double sentence law. However, if the double sentencing law addresses the issue of sentencing disparity and makes it equal in all states, it can be worth considering since all the armed robbery crimes in all the states will be equalized (Oppapers, 2010).

The double sentence bill is also a decision that will be made by the legislature as a result of a situation that has raised much concern and alarm lately but has not been addressed at all. The security department in the country seems to have become inefficient in protecting the citizens and instead of addressing the issue of security, the legislature is debating on creating a new law that might eventually not work out as it is expected due to the consequential long term negative consequences. Why should the government not try effecting more pressure and labor force in the police department to tighten up security in the residential and business areas before thinking of doubling sentences on the victims This will be an attractive proactive measure rather than a reactive measure of solving the problem (James, 2010).

If the proposed legislation is to be passed as a bill in its current form, it will not be effective since it will not have addressed the issues of compensation and assistance to the victim which are very vital in reducing and preventing the occurrence of such robbery in the future. This is because the most important and first goal of sentencing as discussed earlier is ensuring that the criminal becomes a better person in future. The double sentence bill is however concerned about removing the victim from the society for a relatively longer duration but not in eliminating the criminal from the society. The goals of effective sentencing can only be achieved through the elimination of criminals from the society rather than severe imprisonment of offenders (Oppapers, 2010).


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