Criminology and Criminal Justice
Indeterminate sentencing refers to the sentence awarded to law breakers where the prison term imposed does not give a specific release date rather it gives a range of time like two-to-twenty years. This is different from structured sentencing where offenders are classified based on their crime’s severity and gravity and extent of their criminal record, both of which would inform the judges on the sentencing options as to the type and length of the sentences that should be imposed (Siegel, 2010). Some states have, however, abandoned indeterminate sentencing citing the fact that the model does not recognize the basic principle of awarding sentencing including equity, proportionality, as well as social debt (Siegel, 2010). Three types of structured sentences are used in the current justice systems including community, active (prison or jail) and intermediate. Nevertheless, intermediate sentencing has been more effective in deterring crime as the individuals would know that they are under constant watch, with the consequences hanging over their heads (Siegel, 2010).
While indeterminate sentencing is yet to be entirely eliminated, some states abandoned it as it came with uncertainty and disparity on the length of sentence thereby introducing inequality (Fleisher & Krienert, 2006). Structured sentencing, on the other hand, involves the use of criminal record and gravity of the crime to determine the length and type of sentence to be given to an offender (Fleisher & Krienert, 2006). There are three models of structured sentencing including intermediate, active sentencing involving jail terms, and community sentences. Intermediate sentence model holds the best promise for long-term crime reduction considering that the individual offender would already be experiencing some mild consequences of the offense committed and still have something to lose if no change of behavior is noticed (Fleisher & Krienert, 2006).
Journal entries: Lady
Everything in this place seems ridiculous. The clothes are a far cry from fashionable, the food is not only stale but too little and there do not seem to be any room for anything. Sharing the sleeping space with strangers is undoubtedly not the best definition of a good place. When did prison warders become so mean? What does the older, more heavily built inmates gain by being mean to me? The screams in the dead of the night give some answers on why some people have bleeding faces or fearsome scars.
Journal Entries: Male prisoner
The bonds of brotherhood are broken immediately I enter the prison and new ones formed albeit at a too high price. Joining a team necessitates some sacrifices with some of the personal ideals being thrown out of the window. Sexual boundaries and ideals have are sacrificed, beatings endured, food foregone for older inmates, and an oath of silence despite all made. Now I understand why prison is not so desirable.
2. Incarcerating individuals is an efficient way of reforming individuals. Not only would the consequences be clear but also some lessons and rehabilitation programs are offered for reform. However, the fear of incarceration is not enough to deter crime as there are misconceptions about the same for individuals who are yet to be incarcerated. Individuals who are incarcerated have already gone through the system and see nothing big in the same.
Journals: Female inmate
The weight of the sentence is overbearing especially considering that I cannot see my relatives and friends as often as I want. Now I know how priceless freedom can be. I always assumed that we are sisters. This place proves otherwise. Everyone is mean to everyone despite the fact that we are under the same system. Damp and crowded living areas, unpleasant cellmates and the harassing older prisoners are the epitome of inhumanity.
Journal Entries: Male Inmate.
The first lesson is to forget everything one learnt in the outside world, of course, except any fighting lessons. They can come in handy here but they can spark chaos and revenge from which no warden or prisoner can protect you. One learns why human beings are animals, and why the word “savage” does not begin to describe the things that happen in prisons from fellow men.
Part 2. Based on the experiences in the journal entries, this is an extremely effective deterrent mechanism as it underlines the high price of these offenses. The fear of incarceration fails to deter crime as it is sometimes seen as a graduation or initiation stage to higher ranks in the criminal world.
Siegel, L. J. (2010). Introduction to criminal justice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Fleisher, M.S & Krienert, J.L (2006). The Culture of Prison Sexual Violence. New York: National Institute of Justice