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CJA 314 Week 2 Discussion Question 2

Compare determinate sentencing and truth-in-sentencing practices. How would social problem and responsibility perspectives argue for one practice or the other?

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Determinate sentencing mandates a specific sentence for every crime. Sentences are based on a graded approach and depend upon the circumstances how a crime was committed. For example in some states there is a mandatory sentence for armed robbery. Sentencing is determined by how the crime was committed; for example if the offender brandished a handgun in the robbery they would be sentenced to the maximum time. If they committed the robbery using a finger in his or her pocket while claiming they had a gun during the robbery the sentence would be decreased. Determining sentences can be challenging for every crime there is, once sentencing is determined it does make the judge’s job easier.

However it does not allow the judge to give a reduced sentence that is outside the established sentencing guidelines. Truth-in sentencing essentially requires a judge to evaluate, sentence and then announce the sentence to the public. Many truth-in sentencing laws also require the offender to serve 80% of the sentence before release no matter how good his or her behavior is while incarcerated (Schmalleger, 2012).I think that people who believe that crime is caused by social problems and responsibility would argue that determinate sentencing is unfair because it does not allow that specific circumstances of the crime be taken into account for sentencing purposes. For example a person who is shoplifting to feed a family, versus shoplifting to pay for a drug habit, the court could not reduce the sentence.

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