Discussion and Results Chapter: United States Versus Booker

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[. . .] If one looks to the Bible, John 8:3-11, one sees that Jesus tries to be fair and reasonable to the allegedly adulterous woman brought before Him. The way in which the United States has brought changes in sentencing and reduced the power guidelines had on sentencing, it seems as though they are not being fair and reasonable. Instead, they are choosing to construct a foundation from which sentencing can change for the worse and not for the better. One article discussing sentencing stated that changes to guidelines in recent years, fails to create the kind of structural change that departs from improper gauging of culpability.

. . . members of the defense bar argued that the changes do not go far enough in departing from an abstract numerical approach (measured by dollars and number of victims) when attempting to gauge culpability. James Felman, a defense attorney who co-chairs the American Bar Association's criminal justice section and testified before the Commission, characterized the amendments as a "very meager response" to the problems endemic in § 2B1.1 of the Sentencing Guidelines, promising that "[w]e'll keep lobbying the commission to do more." (Harris, Unger, & Caraballo-Garrison, 2015).

So, then what is the solution? What can be done if guidelines are not being used to reduce harsh sentences? The solution could come in the form of community corrections. A 2016 article covers the use of community corrections and their multi-purpose. They are supposed to be an alternative for offenders that help them avoid imprisonment. They are also serve as a conduit to minimize recidivism. Lastly, they are used to help offenders become less of a threat to their families and within the community.

However, the researchers note that community corrections can only work when it is used as a legitimate type of punishment that is also incentivized to encourage widespread use. "To reduce recidivism, it will be necessary to hold officials accountable, to ensure that evidence-based supervision is practiced, to use technology to deliver treatment services, and to create information systems that can guide the development, monitoring, and evaluation of interventions" (Cullen, Jonson, & Mears, 2016, p. 1). Although community corrections can be a viable option to sentencing that can negatively impact an offender's life permanently, it is a new option that requires more thinking and strategy to make it an effective alternative. Going back to the notion of incentive and the United States v. Booker case, although the decision itself created decline in sentence severity, certain factors like percent black population, degree of political conservatism, and socioeconomic disadvantage played a part on the harshness of sentences in district courts (Kim, Cano, Kim, & Spohn, 2016, p. 1072). Therefore, what all of this suggests is the lack of incentive in courts to follow guidelines that could lead to a reduced severity of sentences. If there is more incentive and it easier to dole out harsher sentences, things will end up remaining the same, without much change.

In conclusion, the criminal justice system in the United States has a problem with sentencing. Alternative sentencing has begun to take root in the form of community corrections. Still, people may not understand how to get past the beginning stage of implementation, and truly make it an alternative to prison. Such an alternative is needed because there are too many people facing sentences not equal to their crimes. Within the Judeo-Christian lens, one can see that everyone sins, and in knowing that, people can understand that fairness is important to References

Cullen, F. T., Jonson, C. L., & Mears, D. P. (2016). Reinventing Community Corrections. Crime and Justice, 1. doi:10.1086/688457

Ellis, A., & Allenbough, M. H. (2016). Sentencing. Criminal Justice, 31(1), 54.

Harris, M. D., Unger, J., & Caraballo-Garrison, P. J. (2015, April 18). U.S. Sentencing Commission Approves Amending Sentencing Guidelines to Reduce Penalties for Economic Crimes | The National Law Review. Retrieved from http://www.natlawreview.com/article/us-sentencing-commission-approves-amending-sentencing-guidelines-to-reduce-penalties

Kim, B., Cano, M. V., Kim, K., & Spohn, C. (2016). The Impact of United States v. Booker and Gall/Kimbrough v. United States on Sentence Severity. Crime & Delinquency, 62(8), 1072-1094. doi:10.1177/0011128714551783

Schmalleger, F. (2016). Criminal justice today:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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