Critical Issues in the American Criminal Justice System - Sentencing Decisions and the Death Penalty Essay

Words: 4479
Pages: 18

Critical Issues in the American Criminal Justice System:
Sentencing Decisions and the Death Penalty

Richard W Ramsay

Dr. Allen Lowery
CJ 6624 – Court Administration
December 1, 2010


This paper discusses three critical issues in the criminal justice system. It touches on the general issues of punishment philosophies, sentence decision making, and prison overcrowding and focused more specifically on the negative effects of each. Highlighted in this informational paper is the interrelated nature of the issues; each issue affects and is affected by the others. Data and information has been gathered from the FBI Uniform Crime Report, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Amnesty International, the NAACP Legal Defense
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Another fault of the incapacitation theory is that the removal of the offender is only temporary and eventually the offender will be released back into society (Neubauer & Fradella, 2008). The philosophy of rehabilitation as a form of punishment focuses on the criminal, more specifically on treating the psychological and social disorders that affect the criminal and potentially influenced the criminal behavior. While many people support this concept of rehabilitating the offender and helping them become a productive member of society, others believe that the offenders are escaping punishment. Studies have varied on the effectiveness of rehabilitation as widely as the various types of rehabilitation programs offered. Gradually the ineffective programs have and are being removed and the focus is being placed on the more effective ones. Perhaps the many reasons rehabilitation is so popular is that from an economic stand-point, it is far more economical to rehabilitate a person that it is to incarcerate them. The problem with concept is how one determines if the offender has been rehabilitated (Neubauer & Fradella, 2008).
Deterrence is used in hopes of preventing future crime. This theory was developed in the 19th century by Jeremy Bentham and based on the 18th century work of Cesare Beccaria. Bentham argued that it was against society’s best interests to punish offenders