Corrections, Sentencing, Imprisonment, and Death Penalty

Introduction

Corrections, sentencing, imprisonment and death penalty are terms that are always common in criminal justice system. The commonality arises not because of their specialty but due to some issue that are always associated with them. Sentencing, imprisonment, and death penalty can be discussed within the context of corrections. This is the case because corrections are characterized by sentencing with a view of rehabilitating or restoring a defendant from misdemeanors. Similarly, imprisonment and death penalty can be explored within sentencing as they are types of penalties that judicial systems met to wrongdoers based on assessment of crimes committed. Undoubtedly, issues that are associated with corrections must affect sentencing because the two are related.

Different issues affect corrections as it is for sentencing, imprisonment and death penalty as well. Nevertheless, there are major issues and challenges to criminal justice system need to be tackled. Some of the measures that help in solving the problems have been implemented while some help on increasing the efficiency of the judicial system. Workforce issues associated with correctional services, non- custodial sentences issues, overcrowding in the prisons, and human rights abuse debates are factors that relate to corrections, sentencing, imprisonment and death penalty. In understanding the aforementioned issues, one has to analyze them from the context of how they affect efficiency of correctional services in relation to sentences of imprisonment and death penalty. Christian worldview of the suggestions should also be put into perspective as well.

Corrections

Workforce Issues Related to Corrections

The backbone of corrections service is its workforce because it depends heavily on the trained and dedicated staff for effective professional operations. Currently, the challenges pertaining to workforce issues include staff recruitment, selection and retention, training and agency succession planning (Russo, 2019). Indeed, many factors have contributed to the problems that characterize the correctional services workforce all over the world. For example, the service is perceived to be custodial or surveillance-oriented, a factor that limits the sector’s potentiality of attracting new competencies (Russo, 2019). Increasingly, the new breeds of officers that are employed in the correctional institutions are having the high expectations of actively participating in policy and decision-making. Additionally, the correctional workforce exhibit low levels of professionalism among its staff (Hacin et al., 2019). Inability to retain the corrections staff can also be attributed to a lack of coherent vision in the corrections sector. An explanation tied to the problem is that corrections agencies operate in a rapidly changing environment (Hacin et al., 2019). Therefore, they are always forced to struggle to maintain their workforce within the criminal justice system. As evidenced, the mentioned factors have created a stereotype about corrections agencies jobs as low-status occupations.

Recommendations on Workforce Issues of Corrections Services

Aforementioned complexities point to the critical importance of creating a high-quality correctional labor force. To avert the challenges related to workforce issues, various measures can be undertaken. Firstly, extensive research should be done especially on the inability of corrections sector to attract new talents (Russo, 2019). Secondly, new practices for pushing decision-making authority down to the lowest levels should be developed (Russo, 2019). Such praxis would be important in making junior officers in the corrections structure feel that their decisions are respected and considered. Furthermore, there should be periodical reassessment of competency standards for different correctional positions, more so, to the positions that deal directly with the inmates’ affairs (Hacin et al., 2019). Fourthly, there is a need to develop an international vision and strategy for corrections that is similar to those for other criminal justice system’s sectors (Russo, 2019). Based on the recommendations, sustained investment on staff training, nurturing and development of corrections staff would be guaranteed.

Sentencing

Non-custodial Sentences

Courts act as arbitrators in finding solutions to disagreements between individuals, groups, organizations or even nations. When the courts met the punishments to an individual it is said that the person or the group of individuals have been sentenced (Schmalleger, 2019). Therefore, a sentence refers to a penalty or physical restraint that is pressed by a jury in a criminal procedure (Bottoms, 2017). However, sentencing that is sometimes offered by courts may not be imprisonment but an alternative to incarceration (Tata, 2016). In this case, the penalties may be referred to as the non-custodial sentences. These alternative sentences to imprisonment include fines, community service and probation orders, combination of community and probation orders, and custody probation orders (Siegel & Worrall, 2021). Others are enhanced combination orders, conditional and absolute discharges, binding over commitments, and disqualification from driving among others (Siegel & Worrall, 2021). For juveniles, the courts may impose attendance center orders, reparation orders, community responsibility orders, and youth conference orders as alternatives to imprisonment. Clearly, non-custodial sentences depict the restorative function of the courts to the offenders rather than the punitive aspect of sentencing.

Recommendations on Non-custodial Sentences

In ensuring that non-custodial sentencing becomes beneficial to both the offender and the general public as a whole, some recommendations need to be considered. One key act is that more funds should be channeled towards to agencies such as probation centers to meet full operationalization of non-custodial sentencing (Schmalleger, 2019). As a matter of fact, the increased levels of financial funding enable the community correctional departments and its officers meet their budgetary requirements. Secondly, the government can license more private providers to complement on its efforts towards rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders back to uphold public safety (Siegel & Worrall, 2021). As well, more attendance centers should be opened at local levels to and mobile officers to be introduced with aid from special funding to probationers who are assessed to be of low risks. This is in order to reduce the high costs that are incurred by probationers in keeping to appointment with their supervising officers (Siegel & Worrall, 2021). Inarguably, the measures will not only ensure smooth operationalization of non-custodial sentences but would also ensure that the community benefits from the rehabilitation of the offenders.

Imprisonment

Overcrowding In Prisons

Imprisonment remains to be the main sentencing by many courts in the world. Nonetheless, the penalty is characterized by overcrowding in major and minor prisons. Across the world, different nations have the same problem of overcrowding of inmates, though the extents of seriousness differ among those states (MacDonald, 2018). Numerous challenges have resulted from the rise in number of prisoners in the correctional institutions. Not only is lack of space to accommodate more inmates, but also a myriad of other challenges for prisons’ administration is created (MacDonald, 2018). For instance, the prison wardens experience strain on effective administration while discharging their duties. In some places, inmates have to wait for longer periods to be admitted to be admitted into programs because of their large numbers. Proper classification and separation of inmates has been rendered impracticable by overcrowding of prisoners (MacDonald, 2018). This is because if classification were to effectively work in a prison setup, then there must be some extra capacity in the prison so that inmates may be allocated according to their security assessments ratings. Therefore, the overpopulated prisons have experienced poor services because of the undue pressure on the limited resources of the facilities.

Suggested Solutions to Overcrowding

Building of more prisons would be the easiest way to avert the overcrowding in correctional facilities, but is not the best way of tackling the problem. One of the best steps for government would be to adopt constructive alternatives to custodial sentencing (Nnam, 2016). Imprisonment should be resorted to as the last option especially for cases where rehabilitation has failed. Rather than the usual court system, criminal justice system can develop systems that help in diverting minor cases from judiciary (Nnam, 2016). For example, out-of-court settlements should be encouraged as a way of dealing with some cases. In addition, overcrowding can be reduced if lengths of sentences are reduced to ensure consistent sentencing (Nnam, 2016). Reduction of pre-trial detentions should be prioritized by offering bails and doing regular reviews of cases. As evident, an important measure to decongesting the prisons’ space would be dependent on alternative systems to imprisonment.

Death Penalty

Human Rights Question

Death penalty is among the sentences that is not only raising debate now, but has ignited controversies among legal scholars and philosophers in the past. This is because there are ethical considerations attached to administration of capital punishment. At the center of the controversy are the human rights question (Hoag, 2020) and the sanctity of life as enshrined in the constitution and other religious books such as the Bible. Whether the execution is done through non-violent means or not, it leaves the public with a general negative opinion about the government’s commitment to serve justice and uphold human rights (Sriwidodo & Kristiawanto, 2020). In fact, through capital punishment, killing can be viewed as a way of solving problems that arise in the society. The human right of equal protection is can also be violated through death penalty enactments (Hoag, 2020). For instance, when the sentence is applied randomly, others can intently use it destroy people whom they consider as their rivals. Accordingly, imposition of death penalty can be detrimental to human race as it violates the fundamental rights that are guaranteed in the constitution.

Recommendations On death Penalty

Ability to reform should inform any sentence that a trial court imposes against an offender. It does not mean that alternatives to death penalty are ways of serving the capital offenders with less severe penalties at the expense of their victims, but to safeguard their rights in administering justice to them (Sriwidodo & Kristiawanto, 2020). The nations and states that are still imposing death penalty as a sentence, should adopt life imprisonment as a substitute to the execution (George, 2017). The practice would be to maintain the name of the sentence as ‘death sentence’ yet the implementation involves banishment of the individual to maximum security prisons with no option of a parole. Consequently, the aims of sentencing such as retribution, deterrence, restoration, and incapacitation shall have been achieved without taking the life of the defendant. Another alternative to death penalty should be long-term imprisonment for cases where no violence was involved (George, 2017). This may as well apply to cases of manslaughter where an individual, may be guaranteed rehabilitation after serving the imprisonment. Undoubtedly, life imprisonment and long-term incarceration with regards to magnitude of the offence avert killings of convicted criminals by the state.

Christian Worldview

Christian Teachings on Corrections, Sentencing, Imprisonment, and Death Penalty

Christian worldview of corrections, sentencing, imprisonment and death penalty is based on restoration of offenders. The task of administering justice is left to God who has delegated the same to world authorities (King James Bible, 1769/2017, Romans 13:1, 4) through the corrections staff. As such, the work of prison staff in relation to rehabilitation of the inmates is biblically justified. However, the Bible warns Christians of the impending judgment if they do not repent of their sins (King James Bible, 1769/2017, Revelation 2:5), but does not support imprisonment. In fact, the Christian teachings are opposed to any form of imprisonment. This is exemplified from Christ’s teachings about bringing redemption to all prisoners (King James Bible, 1769/2017, Luke 4:18). From the teachings, it is evident that imprisonment is one of the oppressions that Jesus came to free the world through his death on the cross. Similarly, the Bible discourages taking vengeance as Christ laid emphasis on forgiveness (King James Bible, 1769/2017, Matthew 5:38-42). More critically, the Bible is against sentencing of people in secular courts but instead advocates for love between the offender and wrongdoer through forgiveness. Analyses of several Biblical verses also point to the opposition against killing someone (King James Bible, 1769/2017, Exodus 20:13, Matthew 5:21). Clearly, Christian worldview is opposed to death penalty and imprisonment as they are deemed oppressive.

Christian Support of Selected Recommendations

From the Christians perspectives some of recommendations to sentencing, corrections, imprisonment, and death penalty are based on the scriptures. A suggestion that urges the government to license more private providers to facilitate its function of rehabilitating the wrongdoers is premised on Biblical teaching. More explicitly, the teachings are drawn from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews about recognizing that Christ even came to rescue those who have been tempted (King James Bible, 1769/2017, Hebrews 2:18). Another recommendation that is pegged on Christian teaching is creation of systems that encourage out-of-court settlement of cases. The Bible advocates for forgiveness through atonement of sins, and then is one purified from unrighteousness (King James Bible, 1769/2017, 1 John 1:9). Indeed, suggestion of abolition of death penalty is based on Jesus teachings, stressing love as an important consideration to forgiveness of wrongdoings. Christ teaches that one should love his neighbor as oneself (King James Bible, 1769/2017, Matthew 22: 37-39). As evidenced, some important suggestions to issues pertaining to criminal justice system are deeply entrenched in the Bible.

Conclusion

In summary, understanding of workforce issues in corrections services, non-custodial sentencing issues, overcrowding, and human rights abuse debates on death penalty, consideration should be made to discuss them from the concept of criminal justice system. Additionally, it makes a lot of sense when the recommendations are made within the guidelines of Christian worldview. The Christian perspectives are important because they form the basis of ethics.

Individual assessment of corrections, sentencing, imprisonment, and death penalty shows that there are specific issues that are associated to each one of them. Corrections services are heavily dependent on its workforce and as such, the personnel need to be well trained to tackle the challenges that come with their roles. At times the correction staff may be tasked with responsibilities of ensuring that the defendants adhere to non-custodial sentences terms as stipulated in the trial courts. When such alternatives to imprisonment are adopted, overcrowding in the prisons spaces is mitigated. However, a great challenge arises when an offender is sentenced to death. Such a situation becomes problematic because the issues of human rights abuse and protection debates often ensue. Significant emphasis is than placed on Christian values and teachings as sources of guidance for some of the issues in criminal justice system.

References

Bottoms, A. (2017). ‘Punishment’ in non-custodial sentences: A critical analysis. Criminal Law Forum, 28(3), 563-587.

George, R. (2017). Death penalty: A paradox in a democracy. Journal of Public Affairs and Changes, 1(1), 62-73.

Hacin, R., Fields, C., & Meško, G. (2019). The self-legitimacy of prison staff in Slovenia. European Journal of Criminology, 16(1), 41-59.

Hoag, A. (2020). Valuing Black lives: A case for ending the death penalty. Columbia Human Rights Law Review, 51(3), 983-1007.

King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible online. (Original work published 1769).

MacDonald, M. (2018). Overcrowding and its impact on prison conditions and health. International Journal of Prisoner Health, 14(2), 65-68.

Nnam, M. (2016). Responding to the problem of prison overcrowding in Nigeria through restorative justice: A challenge to the traditional criminal justice system. International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, 11(2), 177-186.

Russo, J. (2019). Workforce issues in corrections. National Institute of Justice.

Schmalleger, F. (2019). Criminal justice today: An introductory text for the 21st century (15th ed.). Pearson Education.

Siegel, L., & Worrall, J. (2021). Introduction to criminal justice (17th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Sriwidodo, J., & Kristiawanto, S. (2020). Death penalty from the perspective of human rights in Indonesia. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 10(8), 17-28.

Tata, C. (2016). How can prison sentencing be reduced? Scottish Justice Matters, 4(1), 1-3.

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DemoEssays. "Corrections, Sentencing, Imprisonment, and Death Penalty." March 6, 2023. https://demoessays.com/corrections-sentencing-imprisonment-and-death-penalty/.