The purposes of adult sentencing were set out in statute for the first time in s142 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which provides that:
Any court dealing with an offender in respect of his offence must have regard to the following purposes of sentencing—
(a) the punishment of offenders, (b) the reduction of crime (including its reduction by deterrence), (c) the reform and rehabilitation of offenders, (d) the protection of the public, and (e) the making of reparation by offenders to persons affected by their offences.
There are six main aims/theories or philosophies of sentencing
Protection of the public/incapacitation
There is a belief that punishment for crime can deter people from offending. There are two forms:
Specific deterrence is concerned with punishing an individual offender in the expectation that he will not offend again.
General deterrence is related to the possibility that people in general will be deterred from committing crime by the threat of punishment if they are caught.
Examples: Prison sentence/long prison sentence , Heavy fine
Do you think deterrence works?
Let’s consider Lord Ahmed’s case.
The effectiveness of deterrence is linked to the perceived likelihood of being caught
Offenders may not stop and think before they commit crimes
General deterrence depends on publicity given for exemplary sentences
Link to BBC news story: Peer jailed for Motorway Texting.
Consider whether fear of punishment is likely to deter individuals from committing offences in each of the situations that follow.
Note your answers down on a sheet of paper and be ready to support your answers with logical arguments.
A convicted burglar walking past a luxury home in the quiet residential street that has keys left in the front door.
A Real IRA terrorist who is plotting to plant a car bomb in a major city.
The father of two children who is invited to take part in a plan to smuggle a large consignment of heroine into the country.
An extremely intoxicated man.
A woman who has suffered years of Physical abuse at the hands of her husband is standing in the kitchen. She knows that her husband is about to attack and sees a row of knives in a kitchen rack within range.
A burglar may not stop and think before committing the crime as he is unable to resist the opportunity to enter the home easily.
This is an example of a crime committed on impulse.
Here fear of punishment will not deter someone.
The terrorist may not be deterred by the prospect of criminal punishment as he may think he is unlikely to be caught.
Terrorist bombs are often detonated by remote control
The father is likely to have learnt from the media that those involved in drug dealing run the risk of receiving heavy custodial sentences. This may be a specific deterrent.
Exemplary sentences are often passed on drug dealers
Many people still think the sentences are too soft
The Drunk Man :
The intoxicated man will most certainly not stop and think much before he commits a crime.
Fear of punishment will not deter him .
The abused woman:
This woman may act on impulse as she is so distressed.
Fear of punishment will have very little deterrent effect.
However, she knows that if she kills him, she faces a life sentence. The life sentence for murder may act as a deterrent here.
Person with a low mental age:
This person may simply not understand what will happen if they are convicted of a crime.
The treat of punishment will not act as a deterrent
Is the lesson over?
Retribution rests on the notion that if a person has knowingly done wrong, he or she deserves to be punished
‘ an eye for an eye’ .The state satisfied this need through retributive sentences e.g. public executions
This idea was at the heart of the previous Conservative Government's White Paper " Crime, Justice and Protecting the Public " (1990). The Government's aim, repeated several times, was to ensure that convicted criminals receive their 'just deserts'. This led to the Criminal Justice Act introducing new sentencing rules to be used by the court. Now what we have is a tariff system, where the Sentencing Guidelines Council produces guidelines for certain offences..
An example in the early 19 th century was
This is also used for the protection of the public. The principle behind this sentence is that the punishment must serve a useful purpose. This means that the punishment must serve a purpose for society as a whole, or that it will help the offender in some way.
Incapacitation means that in some way the offender is made incapable of re-offending. Examples are driving bans and curfews.
Discussion: What are examples of incapacitating sentences? Do you think they are fair and do they work?
Lee Ryan (formerly of Blue) got a driving ban
What are examples of incapacitating sentences? Do you think they are fair and do they work?
This is aimed at compensating the victim of the crime, usually by ordering the offender to pay a sum of money to the victim or to make restitution, for example returning stolen property.
Some projects have also included bring together the offender and the victim to make a direct reparation, so that they can make contact.
The idea of restitution includes making reparation to society as a whole, usually in the form of community punishment orders where offenders are required to work a certain amount of hours on a community project whilst being supervised.
Denunciation is a way of showing society’s disapproval of criminal activity. The sentence has a message to both the defendant and the public, i.e. society condemns that type of behaviour and justice is being done.
So far so good? Of course! Huh???? I am confused
Now draw a mind map of what you’ve just learnt
Use coloured pens and drawings. It’ll help you remember!