Term Paper: Is Recidivism for DUI Offenders Electronically Monitored Lower Than Those Not Electronically Monitored?

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¶ … Recidivism for DUI offenders who are electronically monitored lower than for those that are not electronically monitored?

Sentencing of those that commit crimes while they are impaired by alcohol varies greatly. While it would appear that all individuals should be sentenced in basically the same manner based on their prior convictions, blood alcohol content, and the type of defense that they have, it seems as though many are also being sentenced based on criteria that should be irrelevant for conviction, such as race. This has become a serious problem for many minority individuals, since many who have been sentenced are insisting that the guidelines under which they have been sentenced are unfair.

Literature on this subject, which will be reviewed in Chapter Two, appears to indicate that some disparity may exist, and this is worrying for minority individuals, due to the fact that they are aware that, if they are arrested for DUI crimes, they will be likely to be punished more severely than those that are of the Caucasian race. The review of the literature will provide insight into this issue, and will likely shed light on whether this is an accurate assumption and whether there is anything that can be done to correct sentencing disparities if they do exist in the court system.

Electronic monitoring of these individuals is often thought to play a role in recidivism rates, and that issue will be explored within the context of sentencing guidelines and other related issues. Unfortunately, there is little literature specifically dealing with sentencing disparity based on DUI crimes. This is unfortunate, but clearly shows the need for more studies. It is unfortunate for the understanding of DUI crimes sentencing disparity when it comes to race and other factors that there is not more literature on the specific subject.

Is Recidivism for DUI offenders who are electronically monitored lower than for those that are not electronically monitored?

Introduction

Statement of the Problem and Hypotheses

Race is not the only issue that is involved with sentencing disparity, however, but it is one of the larger ones. This study will seek to explore all of the issues that are involved in disparity in sentencing, and will not concern itself solely with race. However, since race appears to be one of the largest factors, its importance in the study and the literature review will be evident. The following hypotheses apply to this study:

Individuals that are of minority origin will be subjected to stricter punishment due to sentencing disparities in DUI crime laws.

Regardless of race, there are many variations in sentencing for DUI crimes which would indicate a strong disparity in sentencing.

Individuals, regardless of race, that are electronically monitored have a lower recidivism rate than those that are not electronically monitored.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to show that there is great disparity in sentencing guidelines for DUI crimes and that the recidivism rate is affected by electronic monitoring. Human beings are naturally biased and they have their own opinions. It is much more difficult for someone to quell these opinions and make a decision clearly and completely objectively than it is for that same individual to choose what feels right to him or her, but those that hand down sentences are asked to ensure that they do not sentence based on issues that individuals cannot control, such as race, age, or gender.

The disparity that is seen in sentencing guidelines is troubling to the fact that individuals who allow this to happen continue to get away with it and no one has put a stop to it as of yet. This becomes a concern because it indicates a lack of willingness on the part of many individuals in the criminal justice system to attempt to stop this problem or change things so that there is not so much disparity in the sentencing of individuals for various crimes. Not working to change this indicates that these individuals do not care whether individuals are being mistreated by the system or not and shows a lack of regard for fellow human beings which is upsetting to many who witness it.

There are other factors as well, such as the type of defense that an individual has, their age, and whether they have had any prior convictions that also affects how they are sentenced. Some of this disparity makes sense, since someone with several prior convictions likely should receive a punishment that is stronger than someone who is on his or her first offense. However, even though some disparity in sentencing can be explained away, much of it cannot, and this is what is found to be so troubling.

Importance of the Study

The study is very important based on two reasons. First of all, it is important that all human beings be treated equally where sentencing guidelines are concerned for DUI crimes. Secondly, it is important due to the fact that there have been very few studies on this particular issue and more need to be done. An examination of the literature reveals studies that deal primarily with crimes in general or with drug crimes, and no studies that deal specifically with DUI or the electronic monitoring thereof. DUI is mentioned in various studies as being one of the crimes that have been studied for sentencing disparity, recidivism, and racial profiling, but there are no specific studies dealing just with DUI crimes and race or other factors in regards to the disparity of sentencing and the guidelines that judges must go by.

Scope of the Study

The scope of the study will deal with convictions of DUI crimes in the state of Alabama from 1994 to the present. For the research conducted after the review of the literature, the dependent variables will be prison, probation, and number of years sentenced. The independent variables will be blood-alcohol content, type of defense, race, age, prior DUI convictions, and the number of prior DUI convictions. Studying something this specific may be somewhat difficult based on the lack of previous studies into this issue.

Rationale of the Study

The rationale behind the study is very simple. Individuals of minority race have been treated improperly in sentencing guidelines in this country for quite some time, or so statistics and research appears to indicate. The rationale for this study is to show that this is in fact the case and that DUI crimes convictions also fall into this concern over racial disparity and sentencing guidelines which are harsh on some and allow others more leniency in sentencing, as well as to show how electronic monitoring of DUI-convicted individuals affects their recidivism rate.

Literature Review

Over the last decade, the electronic monitoring of criminals has become increasingly popular as communities strive to find ways to protect the public amid budgetary constraints and prison overcrowding (Coker, 2003). As with any relatively new technology, there are both good and bad points to electronic monitoring. While electronic monitoring of criminals using wristbands, necklaces, and anklets does help to keep down the overcrowding in prisons and the cost of housing criminals, the technology does not always work as planned. The biggest problem with monitoring a probationer or parolee electronically is that the technology will only tell the police if the monitored individual is home. It will not tell the police where the individual is if they are not at home (Under, 2001).

When a monitored individual is not at home, there is no way for the police to determine where they are by using the technology they have available. Although most of the people who are placed under electronic monitoring or a form of "house arrest" don't try to escape, a very small percentage do, and they have to be tracked using normal police procedures (Coker, 2003). The process of finding an individual who is on the run would be much easier if it could be done using the device that they are already wearing. Even without convicted offenders attempting to escape, the monitoring device still does not give police all they need to know about the wearer.

For example, monitoring doesn't work like standard house arrest. The wearer of the monitoring device often goes to work, the grocery store, the movies, or anywhere they want. The device tells police when the wearer leaves the house, and when they return home. Obviously, there are set hours that the wearer is expected to be at home, but if they work a 9 to 5 job and leave the house at the normal time, there is no way to know where they are by using the device until after 5 in the evening. By that time, they could have gone almost anywhere, including leaving town, the state, or even possibly the country (Benner, 2002).

Newer and better technology is becoming available that can pinpoint someone's location to within a few feet by using a global positioning system (GPS) satellite. While this is impressive from a technological standpoint, it… [END OF PREVIEW]

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