Last Updated 21 Apr 2020

Rapid Changes in Sentencing Structures

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With this in effect it gave offenders to rehabilitate in prison. With good behavior in prison it could release them sooner rather than later (depending on the procedure's of the parole board). The parole board would review their case and determine if the inmate has "changed" while being incarcerated, and would then be released serving the remainder of their sentence on probation. In the mid CSS, indeterminate sentencing began to meet its final days.

Indeterminate sentencing received much criticism, expressing that it was "inequitable and ineffective and both too harsh and too lenient," but that it was also "impossible to determine a 'correct' or 'fair' sentence for a type of rime" (Overview of Sentencing Reforms and Practices, 2000). The first states to discard the main points on indeterminate sentencing and to have the belief that parole should be accessible to nearly all those incarcerated were California and Maine (Toner, 1999).

The causes of these changes pned from the prisoners themselves, all the way to the political arena. Prisoners showed just how irate prisoners were with not only the concept of rehabilitation, but also with their living conditions. These issues were brought to the foreground by many prison riots, most notably at Attica. On September 3, 1971 , prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York waged a riot that has been deemed 'the bloodiest prison confrontation in American history' (Attica Revisited, 2006).

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Roughly 1,300 prisoners took part, taking 40 guards hostage, with demands of improved living conditions, and more educational opportunities and job training skills. In the end, negotiations failed, police took back the prison, but not without 43 deaths, 10 of which were that of the guards held hostage. Prisoners were not happy with the rights that they had when it came to sentencing as well. Many believed that 'broad discretion produced arbitrary ND capricious decisions and that racial and other invidious biases influenced officials' (Toner, 1999).

Considering that many of those involved in the sentencing and releasing of prisoners are not subject to review, Toner has a valid point. There is no set standard for indeterminate sentencing, so judges had fairly free reign as to sentences. And it seemed to some, that criminals of different races and classes were often given vastly different sentences for committing the same crime, otherwise known as sentencing disparity. Even though incarceration should be about rehabilitating prisoners and leasing them back into society as productive members, unfortunately it has become about politics.

Those running for office always want to appear to be tough on crime, and indeterminate sentencing appears to some to be too soft. Allowing prisoners to earn their freedom before they have served their maximum sentence is not punishment in the eyes of those that believe prisoners should be locked up and made to do hard time. The idea of rehabilitation itself was also challenged. Between 1970-2000, parole rates were deteriorating. According to the American Criminal Law Review, fifteen tastes had done away with parole and twenty states had severe restrictions in place by 2000 (Rehear, 201 1).

Those offenders, who continued to commit crimes, even after being granted parole time and time again, undermined the rationale that parole was part of rehabilitation. As you can see, many factors came to a head to in producing rapid changes In sentencing structures, and there is no doubt that changes will not end there. Corrections is always reviewing their system, and making assessments as to what works and what doesn't, and trying to come up with more cost effective ways to deal tit prisoners and how to rehabilitate them all while punishing them as well.

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