How Can We Best Prevent Sentencing Disparity, Reaction Paper Example

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Reaction Paper

The fact that sentencing disparities in the United States are based on a wide range of influences makes eliminating sentencing disparities a formidable task.  In most cases sentencing disparities emerge from issues of race, age, gender, or social class. Similarly, the impact of sentencing disparity extends not only to the issue of  the dispensation of prison and jail sentences themselves, but to the prosectorial decisions made by attorneys and judges as well as the decisions made by parole officers. In order to control and reduce instances of discrimination in the criminal justice system of the United States it is important that sentencing disparities be dealt with.

However, such a process involves multiple strategies working together as outlined below. This is due to the fact that: “policies that mandate justice and equity do not guarantee equal justice unless the realities of the system as a whole are taken into account”  (Lanier & Henry, 1998, p. 75). The first and  most obvious method to control sentencing disparities in the United States is the use of mandatory-sentencing laws. The use of mandatory sentencing laws restricts the leeway that judges have in imposing terms of punishment on convicted criminals. Most states use mandatory sentencing laws for DUI and drug trafficking.

The extension of mandatory sentencing laws to other crimes would help limit the number of instances of sentencing disparity. A second tactic for reducing sentencing disparities is education. This means that law students and law enforcement officers should be informed about the nature of sentencing disparities and the potential for prejudicial treatment to occur. A third method for helping to reduce or eliminate sentencing disparities in the United States would be a strict adoption of the “three strikes” law which holds for long-term imprisonment of any person who is convicted of committing three felones.  This type of sentencing remains the same despite the race, age, gender, or economic class of the criminal in question.

References

Lanier, M. M., & Henry, S. (1998). Essential Criminology. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

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