Sentencing in the US


Sentencingin the US

Sentencingin the US

TheU.S correction is elaborate and has gone through some changes overthe years. The U.S federal system works with the state system inorder to ensure law and order is maintained in the country. The U.Sfederal system takes care of felony cases while the state handles lawand order issues within its jurisdiction. They both have fourobjectives of punishment. The four objectives of punishment include:retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation and incapacitation. At a timewhen the U.S prisons are being overcrowded, indeterminate sentencingis seen as being an effective tool that can be used in reducing thepopulation in U.S prisons. In this essay, the author will addressthree main issues, the primary objectives of punishment, the impactof sentencing on the state as well as federal corrections systemoverall and the brief discussion of determinate and indeterminatesentencing and which of the two methods would be more appropriate.

Thereare basically four primary objectives of punishment in state andfederal levels of government. The four objectives are deterrence,retribution, rehabilitation and incapacitation. Deterrence refersefforts discouraging people or in this case criminal offenders fromrepeating the same offense in the future. Deterrence can beaccomplished in two ways. It can be specific or general. Specificdeterrence awards offenders with a short custodial sentence which ismeant to give the offenders a taste of prison in an effort todiscourage them from engaging in criminal activities while Generaldeterrence discourages criminal offenders from repeating the sameoffence. Retribution is punishment for a given criminal offense. Thismight involve paying back the community for the wrongs committed interms of putting time in jail. Rehabilitation seeks to change thebehavior of the people so that they do not revert to their behavior.Rehabilitation is sometimes referred to as reform where offenders aregiven some community work and attend some sessions in order to changetheir behavior. Finally, there is incapacitation and this involvestaking the offender away from the society and secluding them inprison so that they cannot cause any more harm to the society.Criminal offenders who have a reputation of repeat offenses and havebeen involved in heinous acts are usually subjected to this form ofpunishment (Lawrence&amp Lyons, 2011).

Asentence is issued by a judge when a person is found guilty. In otherwords, the sentence is the punishment for an offense made by acriminal offender. Depending on the criminal offense, a judge caneither issue a prison sentence or a parole. Most sentences involve aprison sentence which involves incarcerating criminal offenders incorrectional facilities. With the increasing numbers of offenders inU.S prisons, the U.S correctional system is experiencing someconstraints over the past few years. For instance, the population inU.S federal prisons has grown dramatically to over 218,000 andestimates are suggesting that these numbers might go up in thefuture. For instance, BOP has experienced significant growth inprison inmates between 2011 and 2013. In 2013, the populationincreased from 11,500 and 7,541. The Bureau of Prisons is grapplingwith some serious issues due to an increasing prison population. Oneof the concerns is the fact that an increasing number of prisonerincreases the costs related to supporting the correctionalfacilities. This has been putting the government in constraintsespecially at a time when the economy is recovering from a recession.For example, its costs prisons between $33,930 and $21,006 per inmatewhich is more expensive than probation costs which amount to $3,433for every offender (Vigne&amp Samuels, 2012).The other big risk is that overcrowding in correctional facilitiesincreases the risks of conflict between the inmates. There have beencases where inmates have been killed and the exposure to fighting inprison cells among inmates sometimes defeats the purpose of being inprison. This is because the criminal offenders sometimes end upcoming out worse off than they were as they need to fight to survivein prison throwing away out of the window.

Determinatesentencing is fixed and a judge has his hands tied when deliveringprison sentences. For example, if the law states that the sentencingfor a given crime is 2 years, the judge has to oblige and hand out a2 year prison sentence to the criminal offender. On the other hand,indeterminate sentencing gives a judge some room to express him orherself when delivering their judgment. Indeterminate sentencingusually involves a minimum sentence and a maximum sentence. Forexample, the punishment for a given offense might have a minimumsentence of 2 years and a maximum of 5 years. Judges can then maketheir decision based on the severity or the intentions of thecriminal offender (Portman,2015).However, in most cases, judges issue a minimum sentence. In myopinion, the indeterminate sentence would be much more preferablegiven the current state of U.S correctional facilities. Depending onthe degree of the offence a judge can issue a minimum sentence andthis could go a long way in reducing over crowing in U.S correctionalfacilities.


Lawrence,A., &amp Lyons, D. (2011, August). Principalsof Effective State Sentensing and Corrections Policy.Retrieved April 10, 2015, from NCSL:

Portman,J. (2015). Indeterminatevs Determinate Prison Sentences Explained.Retrieved April 10, 2015, from Criminal Defense Lawyer:

Vigne,N. L., &amp Samuels, J. (2012, December). TheGrowth &amp Increasing Costs of the Federal Prison System.Retrieved April 10, 2015, from Urban: