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To Punish or Reform

In my point of view, sentencing should not be used as a tool of punishment, but rather as a way of reforming or transforming the offenders to become better and productive individuals in the society. I would argue that sentencing should help the offenders in acquiring or developing desired characteristics or qualities that are socially acceptable.

The Purpose of Sentencing

The main purpose of sentencing should be to reform the offender. Sentencing should be used to rehabilitate the offender and help him or her become a more productive and useful person in the society. For example, Debner and O’Nell (2008) assert that sentencing of drug traffickers or alcoholics should aim at helping them become better individuals. Reforming or rehabilitating offenders can also be achieved by putting the offender on probation.

In addition, sentencing can also be used to reduce criminal activities in the society by deterring potential offenders from committing criminal offences. According to Long (2011), sentencing can also be used as a deterrence to prevent offenders from committing other crimes. For example, through life imprisonment, the offender is kept away from the society, thus prevented from committing other crimes.

Sentencing can also be used to provide protection to the public or members of the society. As asserted by O’Donnell, Churgin and Curtis (2010), sentencing can be used to protect members of the society by deterring offenders from committing more crimes. For instance, a criminal who is found guilty of murder or rape can be sentenced for life imprisonment, so that he is kept away from other members of the society, thus he is unable to murder or rape again. This can be achieved through holding the offenders in jails or prisons.

Managing Sentencing

If I had the authority to manage sentencing, one of my priorities would be to ensure adequate reformation and rehabilitation of offenders. In my point of view, criminals should not just be punished through sentencing, but be reformed or rehabilitated in order to help them eliminate or get rid of the undesirable or unacceptable behaviors that may lead them to criminality. This would entail taking the offenders to appropriate rehabilitation centers, so that they can acquire the desired characteristics or qualities. For my part, reforming criminals would be my first priority, because it has been proved that punishing the criminals has little or no effect on the rate of crimes committed in the society. As Long (2011) puts across, punishment of criminals only creates increased tension between the offender and the grieved parties, especially family members of the victim.

Secondly, I would establish a sentencing advisory committee to review the effectiveness of sentencing in reforming and deterring crimes. The sentencing advisory committee would be mandated with setting out various objectives and principles that should be used during sentencing in order to ensure that the main goal of sentencing is achieved without. The sentencing advisory committee would also outline various rules and regulations and principles that would act as a guideline to direct and steer members of the criminal justice system, such as judges and probation officers on how to effectively sentence and reform or rehabilitate criminal offenders. For example, judges in courts would be guided on how to use sentencing to prevent criminals from reoffending.

Thirdly, I would also ensure that there is no discrimination during sentencing and administration of justice. I would ensure that all criminal suspects are treated equally without favors.

Changes I would make to the Current System

Some of the changes that I would make in the current system include introduction of community service as one of the sentences that an offender would be awarded. This would involve deploying the offender to work or assist in various community projects.

Moreover, I would also ensure that offenders who commit capital crimes are awarded custodial sentences, so that the public can be protected from future harms. I would ensure to wipe out capital punishment or death penalty from the criminal justice system, because it is immoral and unethical and has little or no effect on prevention, deterrence and control of criminal activities, but rather leads to unnecessary loss of lives. Instead, offenders who commit serious offences would be sentenced for life imprisonment.

Last but not least, I would impose that first time offenders should not be punished. Instead, they should be rehabilitated and reformed. However, repeat offenders may be punished depending on the severity of the offence committed.

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