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Free «Punishment and Policy» Essay Sample

1. What types of punishment does the US Criminal Justice System (CJS) use?

i) Fines

This punishment involves payment of monetary fines which are imposed by judges. It is the most common type of punishment which results from non-violent crimes such as traffic infractions.

ii) Probation

These are conditions imposed by the judge’s sentence for the release of the convicted person such as to attend counseling or to refrain from drugs. The convict is supervised by the probation officer to ensure that he/she meets the conditions which are mainly meant for the rehabilitation of the offender.

iii) Death Penalty

This is also called the capital punishment, reserved for first degree murder criminals, which is imposed by the federal government and thirty-eight states of the US. There is a right for the defendants to present the mitigating circumstances before the sentencing, so that only those who deserve to die receive the death penalty for their crimes.

iv) Boots Camps

In this punishment, the offenders are made to live in the barracks of the military type, where they undergo both rigorous behavioral as well as physical training for a period of three to six months.

v) House arrest and electronic monitoring



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This punishment involves restricting the offenders to house arrest where they spend either all or the better part of the day at their home which may be monitored electronically or stand alone as a sanction. Its aim may be a rehabilitation of an individual.

Vi) Restitution

The punishment,  according to which an offender is obliged to pay a victim a definite sum of money. It may be enforced by the offender’s assets or wages being attached.

 2. What justification(s) for punishment do each of them fall under?

I) The law sets a minimum or a maximum amount of fine to be paid for each particular offence and hence the judge’s discretion to direct the payment of the fine not less or more than that range.

ii) The sentencing laws of the different states of the US set different periods for probation, generally, for misdemeanor the probation period lasts three years while for felony it is five years.

iii) The law requires the presentation of the aggravating circumstances which provides room for mitigating circumstances to be shown as evidence, which will mandate the determination of innocence or guilt and also for sentencing of the alleged criminal.

iv) Boot Camps are meant to instill discipline to late teens and those youths in their early twenties.

V) House arrest is justified since it is a form of incapacitation which relies on the basic human behavior analysis. Such measure helps to restrain the people, both innocent and guilty, who may be observing the criminals, from engaging in the same crime. 

vi) Restitution is justified by retribution, where the money paid to the victim is meant to cover the economic losses such as medical bills, which the crime may have caused. 

3. What would ___________ say about incarceration? Justify your response. Each response should be a minimum of 1 paragraph (for a total of at least 2 paragraphs). A) Sutherland Sutherland says that during his term in prison, he has been denied the freedom to smoke in addition to lights never going off. The ordeal has been worsened by poor sleeping conditions with dirty blankets. Although he appreciates the possibility to quit smoking and drinking, he is still uncomfortable about being unable to satisfy these urges while in prison.

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B) In his two theories, Hirschi argues that the behaviors resulting from crime in some ways require the creation of criminal motivation; for instance, the inability of youths to reach their goals and aspirations through legitimate means leads them to committing a crime. In the second theory, Hirschi states that there is a natural predisposition of individuals to impulsive, shot-sighted risk taking and self gratifying behavior which needs to be restrained.

 4. What social policies to reduce crime would likely be recommended by a sociologist who favors ___________? Why?

 A) Merton's Strain Theory

The theory supported the idea of reducing the poverty as well as increasing lower-class people’s opportunity which will reduce their straining and hence crime. It is targeted towards the reduction of psychological strain and its relationship to emotional states with negative tendencies; this makes people less prone to delinquency if they can constructively cope with their emotions.

B) Liazos' Theory on Powerlessness

In this theory, Liazo points out that the people, labeled as  deviant, tend to be powerless; for instance, a homeless person living in the streets is deemed to be more deviant than an executive who is an embezzler of funds of the his or her company. Therefore, promoting factors that enhance social equality and justice would see crime in the same manner irrespective of social class of the offender and hence administer same measures of terminating it.

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C) Hirschi's Control Theory

Hirschi asserts in this theory that ties to school, family and other social aspects tend to lessen the propensity for a behavior regarded as deviant. For that reason, the argument of the theory is that crime takes place when such bonds are not properly established or when they are broken. Thus, these bonds should be maintained.

D) Becker's Labeling Theory

In this theory, crime can be reduced by either informal or formal punishments. The informal punishment may include mild measures such as a harsh stare, raised eyebrows, gossip and stigmatization while the formal punishment is administered by imprisonment or performing community service.


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