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Prison Term

Essay by   •  June 23, 2013  •  1,507 Words (7 Pages)  •  911 Views

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Introduction

It can be argued that anyone who has ever been a victim most likely be in favor of lengthier sentencing for convicted offenders. The notion that criminals who are convicted come out and commit more crimes increases the odds that there will be more victims. The legal system is controlled by rules and laws that protect the rights of the accused. This report will examine proposed legislation aimed at doubling the sentences for offenders convicted of armed robbery. According to information at criminal.laws.com. Sentencing guidelines for armed robbery are generally very severe. However, many factors play into those guidelines. First, armed robbery is almost considered a class one, or classes a felony. In the State of Texas robbery is charged as a second degree felony. This carries a penalty of two to twenty years in a state prison and/or a fine of no more than 10,000 dollars. If the crime is elevated to that of aggravated robbery, the charge will be first degree felony. This carries a more serious penalty of five t 99 years in the state prison and/or a fine of no more than 10,000. (statelaws.findlaw.com/texas-law/texas-robbery-laws.html). A recommendation for or against a bill increasing punishment guidelines for this crime will be researched and reviewed for its effectiveness against offenders receiving lighter sentences. It will take into account current sentencing guidelines, for armed robbery offense, and reveal recommendation on why the increase sentencing may or may influence crime statistics either way and what cost to taxpayers and prison overcrowding.

The case for stiffer penalties for armed robbery convictions research points to different rules and laws for armed robbery depending on the state where the offense occurs. According to the FBI's uniform crime report website, nationwide in 2010, there were an estimated 367,832 robberies. The estimated number of robberies decreased 10.0 percent from the 2009 estimate and 18.1 percent from the 2006 estimate (fbi.gov, 2010). Although these numbers show documented proof that robberies were less prevalent over a four year span. There are some states that may contribute to harsher penalties for convicted offenders. In fact, children are often charged as adults when they take any part in armed robbery. For example, a child that poses as a lookout while other young adults take part in robbing a store will likely face the same charges as the child holding the weapon. (criminal.laws.com, 2010)

Current legislation is proposing a bill aimed at doubling the sentence for offenders convicted of armed robberies. Many supporters of the bill argue that many offenders end up back on the streets committing the same crime that put them away in the first place. There are some theorist and criminology experts who argue that many offenders end up back on the streets committing the same crime that put them away in the first place. There are some theorist and criminology experts who argue that recidivism rates can be improved and offenders don't have to be locked up twice as long to reduce armed robberies. Information from the FBI's 2010 Uniform Crime Report lends support to this premise. Additionally, there are some well known criminologists that believe it will not make much of a difference at all. It can be argued that law enforcement follow patterns that provides them with data of areas where robberies are more prevalent. Some may argue that the use of some type of profiling usually works to the benefit of investigators who are looking into an armed robbery. According to Frank Schmalleger, "profiles develop a list of typical offender characteristics and other useful principles by analyzing crime-scene and autopsy data, in conjunction with interviews and studies of past offenders, in the belief that almost any form of conscious behavior (including behavior engaged in by the offender during a criminal episode) is symptomatic of the individual's personality (Frank Schmalleger, 2012)." Although, many will argue locking offenders up longer will resolve many issues and protect homes and business from armed robberies, there hasn't been much evidence either way that it would be any more effective.

A Case for Alternative Measures to Incarceration and Increased Sentencing

Arguably more prison time for any offenders puts more strain on state budgets. Correctional facilities are faced with the possibilities of overcrowded conditions that in essence put correctional officers and inmates at risk. Alternative solutions to more prison times are often recommended by states whose budgets can't absorb the overwhelming cost of housing inmates. Arguably, all armed robberies are not necessarily hardened criminals. Some of them commit robberies out of acts of desperation; although there is no excuse for anyone committing a crime, there should be some leniency based on circumstances, criminal record, and other mitigating factors that would not benefit them to be imprisoned twice as long due to this bill's passage. Additionally, one can argue that our current system does not give many sentencing options to offenders other than imprisonment. The current state of prison populations lends support to this premise just by the number of offenders already behind bars. According to Mark Mauer at a civil liberties website, "the United States has now become the world leader in its rate of incarceration, locking up its citizens at 5-8 times the rate of other industrialized nations (Mauer, 2006).

Published documents from a 1999 meeting of the Justice Department Executive sessions on sentencing and corrections argued that "if courts and corrections are to work in harmony (which our collective interest in justice and public safety requires they do), more than incremental investments in generic penal measures are needed (Dickey & Smith, 1999)." The article's content carried a strong

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