International and comparative sentencing


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International and comparative sentencing

  1. 1. Definitions, purposes, and rationale of criminal sentencing  Brief notes about sentencing in our model countries  Opening to discussion on the global death penalty and workshop 
  2. 2. Mandatory sentencing: Sentence prescribed in law without discretion for sentencing authority  Discretionary sentencing: Sentencing authority can tailor sentence to circumstances of crime or offender  › This difference is a spectrum; discretion can be limited or guided by statute (mandatory minimums, etc.) › Weigh competing goals of sentencing uniformity and consistency and the risk of overpunishment
  3. 3.  Retribution › Punish offenders in proportion to their offense (“just deserts,” Old English: “that which is deserved”)  Deterrence › One less likely to commit crime if one saw harshness of punishment  Isolation › Premise that society must be protected from dangerous and violent offenders  Rehabilitation › Goal of eventually reintegrating offender into society; divert offender from traditional punishment
  4. 4.  Every society attempts to reconcile these aims differently, as they are culturally and historically contingent › For instance: Japan focuses heavily on rehabilitation, while Saudi Arabia focuses heavily on retribution
  5. 5.  England › Judicial sentencing discretion: About a century old. Consider circumstances of criminal and offense and tailor punishment › Increasingly committed to rehabilitation as an aim of criminal sentencing since 1970s on the theory that it is a cost savings for society  France › Délits (minor violations), contraventions (misdemeanors), felonies: three levels of offenses, each with different sentencing aims › Move away from imprisonment (too costly) toward alternative sentencing schemes
  6. 6.  China › Traditional tension between retribution and rehabilitation (Confucian v. Legalist views) › Emphasis on administrative punishments for lesser violations, to educate population as to what is legal and illegal › Use of forced labor as sanction › 90% of the world’s executions  Japan › Main concern: How will a criminal punishment benefit society? › Procurators have very wide discretion in choosing a sanction or not prosecuting at all › Emphasis on rehabilitation; close-knit society ensures that social isolation, and not corporal punishment, is most effective
  7. 7.  Saudi Arabia › One of the most retributivist legal systems in the world › Resisted demands for reform; belief that Islamic law is fundamentally different from Western law › In general: Perpetrator can be harmed in same manner and to same degree as victim, unless pardoned or forgiven by victim
  8. 8. What regional patterns appear from the preceding map?  Why do you think these countries still use the death penalty? Is it for the same reasons?  Is there a correlation between wealth/economic development and death penalty retention? 