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Notes on Sentencing in British courts

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Sentencing Magistrates = max two terms of six months. �5000 fine Crown = No limits. * Murder is mandatory life. * All crimes have maximum sentence. * Theft max 7 yrs. * No minimum sentences. * The Crime (sentences) Act 1997 - min sentences for persistent offenders. * C(S)A 1997 imposed mandatory life or second violent / serious crime. 1. Aims of Sentencing * Passing sentence J looks at sentence available + what they are trying to achieve in giving a particular sentence. The 6 aims and objectives are: 1. Retribution: punishment because they deserve it. Revenge. An eye for an eye. Retribution today based on idea each crime has a set tariff. A band which crimes fit into. A sentence is imposed within correct band. Bad because doesn't take into account mitigating factors. 2. Denunciation: this is a way of showing a particular crime or crime in general is considered heinous by society. E.g. drink driving. 3. Incapacitation: punishment serves a useful purpose. Prevents offender, re offending. E.g. death, loss of limbs, long prison sentences, tagging, curfew. Used to protect the public. 4. Deterrence: individual or general. Individual E.g. prison. May deter future actions. Though only if criminal thinks about consequences before committing. Usually drunk etc so do not. General deterrence hopes to deter others from following. Perhaps least fair way and least effective as few think about others situation. Also example sentence is a little unfair. E.g. mobile phone crime. Punishment does not fit crime. 5. Rehabilitation: forward looking. Aim to reform offender. Hope offender's behaviour will be altered by sentence imposed. E.g. drug testing and treatment orders, probation. Pre sentence report taken into consideration, school reports etc. important with young offenders. Sentences are individual ones, not at all like tariffs. Criticised as being inconsistent and discriminating against those from poor backgrounds. The Power of criminal Courts (sentencing) Act 2000 states, considering seriousness of offence court may also take into consideration any previous failure to respond to previous sentence. ...read more.

Middle

Community Punishment Orders 3. Community Punishment & Rehabilitation Orders 4. Curfew Orders 5. Drug treatment & Testing Orders o Addition Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000 created 2 more 1. Exclusion Orders 2. Drug Abstinence Orders Community Rehabilitation Order o Under supervision of probation officer for between 6-mths & 3 yrs o Must lead industrious & honest life & be in contact with officer. o Court can impose other conditions: 1. Residence order 2. Cant do specific activities up to 69 days 3. Attends probation ctr 4. Treatment with drug, alcohol or mental people. o Main aim is to rehabilitate. Though 60% re offend in 2 yrs. Community Punishment Order o Requires to work between 40 - 240 hrs on suitable project. o Time fixed by court. Usually 8 hrs a day. Usually weekends. Eric Cantona taught kids footie. o Criticised as too short. Other countries give longer. o Much less re offending rate than other community schemes. Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Order o Combination of two. o Up to 100hrs on community punishment and must meet terms of rehabilitation order. o Gives courts more flexibility in what they can impose. Curfew Orders o At fixed address must stay between 2 - 12 hrs a day. o Last up to 6 months. Can use tagging. o Only possible if arrangement for monitoring curfews in the area. o Tagging is a third of prison cost. And in 1st 2 yrs 80% completed successfully. Drug Treatment and Testing Orders o Sec 52 -58 POCC(S)A 2000 sets out rules for 16+ to use this scheme. o Lasts between 6 months + 3 yrs. o Possible if convict agrees. o Residential or not, court must set min number of tests each month. o Reviews must be attended by offender and written reports made. o Though only small no given order. It did help. Exclusion Orders o Bans going somewhere at specific time. ...read more.

Conclusion

o Only when offender does not pose risk to society. o E.g. john Aitkin, perjury. o Did reduce population for a bit. o Woolf said in 2001 courts shouldn't send people to jail unless really necessary. Must also think if sentence could possibly be less. 6.1 Prison Population o Considerable increase in prison population during 2nd half of 20th century. o This increase made a re appraisal of sentencing policy necessary. o Community based sentences managed to reduce numbers. o The numbers are still rising however. o In 2000 there was slight decrease due to early release & home curfew, but it hit all time high in 2001. o A report said there were many who could have been dealt with in non-custodial ways. 70% of women and 25% of men. 6.2 Prison Riots o Worst 1990 @ Strangeways. Independent public inquiry headed by Woolf found out causes, poor physical conditions, poor sanitation, overcrowding, food, treatment, and hrs of lock up. o Criticisms about insufficient constructive activities. High rate of re offence shows more need to be done. 6.3 Racism in Sentencing o Ethnic minorities over represented in prison population. o Could be because sizable no are in for drug smuggling or immigration. o Still high regardless. Could be racism or not. o Study by Hood in 1992 said 80% was because they did more serious crimes and went to crown. Remaining 20, some (more) pleaded not guilty and got longer sentences. Only 7% was deemed racist. o In 1990's racial awareness is part of judges training. o A test was done on 5 areas on types of sentence, no evidence found except more community sentences given to blacks. 6.4 Women & Sentencing o Much less than men. Also commit fewer offences than men. This can show that women are treated more harshly than men. o Other studies say women more favourable than men. o Hard to say as women do less serious, violent crime. Hard to compare. o It is thought those not in traditional women role, mother etc are treated less favourably. o A lot of women prisoners do have children. ...read more.

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