Sentencing Goals: Vengeance, Convalescence, & More - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-11-14
Sentencing Goals: Vengeance, Convalescence, & More - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Criminal law Justice Criminal justice
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1828 words
16 min read


Historical changes in sentencing can be grouped based on the goals they intend to achieve. The main goals usually associated with sentencing are vengeance, convalescence, dissuasion, and incapacitation. Often, retribution is used when referring to the fact that all lawbreakers deserve punishment. Besides, additional goals include the practical and other emphasizing goals that are meant to protect the public. However, the goals are different from the first three goals since they differ in the mechanism expected to safeguard the public. For instance, deterrence mainly focuses on the incorrectness of punishment given to a lawbreaker. This goal is committed to preventing criminals from committing the same crime again, considering the rational calculation and the extreme costs associated with crime (Demleitner et al.,2018). The goal ensures that the punishment is intense so that neither the offender nor any public member is likely to commit the same crime. The sentence, in this case, is meant to serve as a specific and general deterrence tool. On the other hand, incapacitation deprives people of the ability to commit a crime by physically locking them behind bars. When it comes to rehabilitation, the main goal is usually modifying the criminals' behavior and thoughts so that they may not, in any way, commit the crime again (Demleitner et al.,2018).

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Impact of Sentencing Structures

Sentencing structures are usually evaluated based on their effects on an offender as an individual and the society at large. The offender must know the impact a given sentencing structure is likely to have on his or her rehabilitation process. Valid sentencing structured should be one that is directed at ensuring the criminal, and anyone else in the society does not commit a similar crime (Ulmer et al.,2016). Thus, a sentencing structure is believed to be effective if it can prevent an offender from committing any same crime in the future. When it comes to the community, it is crucial to note any effects that a sentencing structure is likely to impose on society. In this case, however, there are differences in emphasis. When we talk about the impact of a sentence on an individual, we are specific about the person we refer to. However, what the sentencing structure speaks to the entire community can be different. A generalized perception of society is primarily used when expressing the need for deterrence, incapacitation, and explaining the pressure associated with deterrence (Ulmer et al.,2016).

Invisible Punishment

Invisible punishment is associated with stigma and deprivations that are likely to affect one for a lifetime. For instance, it is widespread that most felons lose their right to vote, and some even lose it forever unless a court ruling is passed, allowing them to do so. What is not known is whether disfranchisement can significantly affect local and international elections. From Marc Mauer’s essay, ‘Mass Imprisonment and the Disappearing Voter, ' more than 200,000 felons who had been convicted could not vote in the presidential election that was held in the year 2000 in the United States. Besides, over 4million Americans were banned from participating in the polls due to previous convictions. However, felons are deprived of their rights to participate in polls when it comes to elections. Still, they are also prevented from obtaining licenses to operate businesses like plumbing, barbershops, schools, or even serve as security guards (Whittle,2018).

Structure and Logistics of Correctional Facilities


On arrival, the prisoner is directed to the admission area where he or she is supposed to be processed by the DCS staff. Usually, the maximum time taken during processing is six hours. For women with children, they are asked to confirm whether their children are okay and whether they are left behind to take care of them. A picture of the prisoner is later taken, and the prisoner is then strip-searched to ensure safety within the prison walls. The search is usually conducted in a dignified way by a staff of the same gender. Once the search is complete, the prisoner is provided with clean prison attire, including clothes and shoes. In some instances, the prisoner is kept in a temporary cell during the processing (Mela et al.,2016).

Everything worn by the prisoner at this stage is usually processed and carefully stored. Any prohibited item like cell phones is not stored. Prisoners are advised to liaise with their close family members to collect them, and if not, they are then disposed of once two weeks have elapsed. At this stage, prisoners also get an opportunity to acquire their family member contacts together with those of their lawyers. A health examination is then conducted to determine whether the prisoner may be suffering from any illness. If the prisoner is diagnosed to be suffering from any disease, only medication recommended by prison doctors is allowed. Prisoners are then asked to disclose to nurses whether they are on any methadone program. Once processed, the prisoner is allowed to eat the next available meal in prison (Mela et al.,2016).


After sentencing, inmates are made to spend a couple of weeks in a reception center where they are introduced to formal organizations of prison. During this period, they are usually separated from other prisoners under close monitoring of prison staff who inform them of any correctional measures required. The reception process is fundamental because it helps in classifying inmates, an essential factor, especially in modern imprisonment. Most correctional departments tend to use numerical scores in assessing the level of risk posed by inmates. This is usually the case because current and previous convictions associated with violence are likely to result in high-risk scores. Besides, classification is essential because it helps in mapping prisoners with custody levels that suit them. Most correctional systems are made of an impressive array of institutions with different levels of security designations (Hanink et al.,2017).

Age-Related Diversity

The old-age inmates have been posing a significant challenge to the prison system. This is from a close examination conducted on social demographics and the aging population at large. Since our general population is aging, it is essential to understand that the people in prison are as well aging. Over the past years, the average age of inmates entering prison has risen to 33 years (Fehrmann et al.,2019). This means that the older population is now off the bat. One of the significant challenges faced by our correctional facilities is meeting the cost associated with taking care of the aged. The elderly inmates are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes and, at times, suffer from conditions that are likely to affect their mobility.

While in prison, an illness associated with aging can pose a significant challenge since the inmates will find it challenging to navigate playgrounds. Besides, most buildings in prison are always built away from each other and besides laden using stairs. Also, most cells are not designed to accommodate oxygen machines or even wheelchairs (Fehrmann et al.,2019).

Systemic Issues

Impact of Diversity

Like every other society, the prison society has its own culture, derived from patterns followed by the daily lifestyle within the prison. One of the unique customs practiced in prison is depriving inmates of freedom. As much as prisoners are likely to affect the culture practiced in jail, there is still a culture that characterizes how prison is operated. Due to diversity, the prison culture keeps changing with new staff and new inmates (Roffee,2017). When a prisoner is sentenced to a particular prison for the first time, he or she must learn and adapt to the prison culture. Criminality and antisociality become deeper when the inmates finally adapt to the criminogenic lifestyle, which is the prison culture.

In most cases, the level one is prisoned is usually dependent on factors like the prevailing relationship with cellmates. The outside antisocial workers, length of sentence, age, and the crime committed. Just like the inmates, prison staff also have a culture they should adhere to. In most cases, the team upholds the culture possessed by the police making it difficult to gain trust from the inmates (Roffee,2017).

Rise of Incarceration and Reduction Strategies

The high incarceration rates in prison are as a result of states sending a large number of lawbreakers to prison and also keeping them there for a more extended period. Studies also show that the rates of crime have risen and, in turn, fallen solely on incarceration. A decade before incarceration, the rate of crime was already rising. Besides, arrests on the crime committed have relatively become stable. The rates of incarceration have increased despite the rates of crime declining because the police are more effective in carrying out their duties.

To reduce incarceration rates, there is a need to decriminalize some classified activities as petty crimes and reclassify some of the low-level offenses. Secondly, there is a need to expand the use of alternatives to prisons for crimes deemed less violent. Also, people who have a mental illness or substance abuse can be diverted from going through the criminal justice system. Another way to reduce incarceration rates is to reduce prison duration and probation length (Herman et al.,2018).

Prison Culture

Even though prisons vary, six trends have occurred in the past six years that have significantly impacted the effect of imprisonment in different countries. The factors include increased overcrowding prisons, a more racially and diverse population in prison, a reduction of levels of lethal violence in prisons, growth in the penal harm program, and early litigation. One of the significant trends that led to a change in prison culture was the increase of incarceration rates among the Hispanics and the black Americans, which changed the racial composition of prison. Prisoners who are racially and ethnically diverse tend to live closer and more intimately. However, there is a severe effect of having a significant number of prisoners being of a certain race or ethnic background because they are likely to cause a lot of racial and ethnic segregation within the prison walls (Ingel,2020).


Demleitner, N., Berman, D., Miller, M. L., & Wright, R. F. (2018). Sentencing law and policy: Cases, statutes, and guidelines. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

Fehrmann, E., Kotulla, S., Fischer, L., Kienbacher, T., Tuechler, K., Mair, P., ... & Paul, B. (2019). The impact of age and gender on the ICF-based assessment of chronic low back pain. Disability and Rehabilitation, 41(10), 1190-1199.

Hanink, P. A. (2017). Prison Architecture. The Encyclopedia of Corrections, 1-4.

Herman, S. N. (2018). Getting There: On Strategies for Implementing Criminal Justice Reform. Berkeley J. Crim. L., 23, 32.

Ingel, S. (2020). Unpacking Prison Culture: The Role of Staff Relationships (Doctoral dissertation).

Mela, M., & Depiang, G. (2016). Clozapine's effect on recidivism among offenders with mental disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 44(1), 82-90.

Roffee, J. A. (2017). Accountability and oversight of state functions: Use volunteers to monitor equality and diversity in prisons in England and Wales. SAGE Open, 7(1), 2158244017690792.

Ulmer, J., Painter-Davis, N., & Tinik, L. (2016). Disproportional imprisonment of Black and Hispanic males: Sentencing discretion, processing outcomes, and policy structures. Justice Quarterly, 33(4), 642-681.

Cite this page

Sentencing Goals: Vengeance, Convalescence, & More - Essay Sample. (2023, Nov 14). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism