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The Value of Non-custodial/community Sentences Over Imprisonment.

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Introduction

Sentencing The Value of Non-custodial/community Sentences Over Imprisonment When we think of punishing criminals most of us have a visualisation of tall, barbed wire capped walls, imposing grey buildings and big steel gates. We may have an image of pool tables and televisions, day visits to local towns and even view gaol as a state funded criminals' college, a place where a minor criminal can learn the tricks and leave as a criminal heavy weight. Perhaps criminals themselves only see gaol as an annoyance and not a deterrent. But is it really a soft option? Would the passing of a community sentence provide a better form of punishment and would that be enough to satiate the angry masses, fed up with crime? To better understand the role of prisons and the part community sentencing plays in the punishment and rehabilitation of criminals, we need to look at each one on its own merits. I found this definition of custody on the internet: Custody n 1: a state of confinement (usually for a short time; "the prisoner is on hold"; "he is in the custody of police") ...read more.

Middle

For men and women like him there must be a better option for punishment and rehabilitation, a better deterrent. If we as society want retribution and reform then we may feel let down by Pauls' attitude towards the custodial sentence and will need to look towards other ways of punishment that serve to deal with the offender in a way that will both make us happy justice has been done and prevent the criminal from re-offending. We may then turn to alternative methods of punishment such as community sentencing. There are six types of community sentence; * Community rehabilitation order * Community punishment order * Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Order * Curfew order * Attendance centre order * Supervision order These are given out by sentencers for varying degrees of crime i.e. community rehabilitation order (community service) may be given instead of a prison sentence but failure to attend will mean a spell in prison is inevitable. All of the above are not exclusive and can be, and are, used in conjunction with custodial sentences. ...read more.

Conclusion

However by employing guards to look after, cajole and force offenders into complying with community sentence orders, we are incurring both extra cost and imposing a custodial feel to what was meant to be a non-custodial punishment. Does this extra cost incurred match or come close to the cost of a gaol sentence? And does the purpose of a community sentence, i.e. reform and reintegration into society without the stigma or malaise that is associated with custodial sentencing, become lost once custodial restrictions are imposed? In closing it is my belief that there are merits for both types of sentence, dependant on effectiveness in each specific case. What is good for the goose is not necessarily as good for the gander and what may work in one situation may not be as effective, or even work at all, in another. Sentencing has, is and always will be defined by society's needs and wants at the time, and the justification of specific sentencing will be based on the perceived effectiveness it holds. Also the two types of sentence, custodial and community, are not mutually exclusive and do converge to provide a positively balanced form of punishment. 1 ...read more.

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