American Rehabilitation System

Essay one
Question: Compare and contrast determinate and indeterminate sentencing.
What are the pros and the cons of each? What does each assume both
offenders and criminal justice officials, like judges and probation/
parole officers?
Determinate and indeterminate sentence
Sentencing is a common practice in the criminal judicial system, which
involves the determination of the form of punishment depending on
whether the suspect has been found guilty or innocent by a competent
court of law. The sentence may be served in different forms such as fine
and / or imprisonment among other forms of punishment (Hayes, 2006). The
different types of punishment that are determined by the court in a
judge ruled process can be classified into two major categories namely
the determinate and indeterminate sentencing. The purpose of this essay
is to compare and contrast the two types of sentence. In addition, the
essay will provide a discussion of the pros and cons of each form of
sentencing. Although determinate and indeterminate sentences are
different, their application has significance in deterring crime.
The primary difference between determinate and indeterminate sentencing
allocation of authority over the determination of a sentence and the
period recommended for each type of sentencing. The determinate sentence
has a defined length provided by law and the parole board or other
judicial and non-judicial agencies cannot change it (Portman, 2013). For
example, an eight month sentence in jail is determinate and implies that
the prisoner cannot spend more than eight months behind the bars, but
the sentence can be reduced via time off for good behavior that occur a
few cases. Indeterminate sentence, on the other hand, has a minimum
term, but the time of release is left uncertain (Portman, 2013). For
example, the offender may be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years to life,
but the release time may be determined by the parole board, which
reviews cases of indeterminate sentence periodically. Indeterminate
sentence is offered for serious offenses while determinate sentence is
applied for less serious offenses.
Pros of determinate and indeterminate sentences
Determinate sentence enhances the general crime deterrence because the
public is aware of punishment for different types of crime before
committing them, which is perceived by the judicial system officials as
a means of deterring crime. In addition, determinate sentence increase
fairness by reducing potential bias of some judges, which protect the
interest of the offender (Hayes, 2006). Indeterminate sentence, on the
other hand, enhance the offender reform process while in jail because
they hope for a future release if they demonstrate good behavior.
Cons of determinate and indeterminate sentences
Determinate sentence reduces the significance discretion of the judge.
This limits the capacity of the judge to determine the sentence based on
the gravity of the evidence presented before the court and consideration
of other factors such as mental status of the offender and individual
circumstances. Indeterminate sentence, on the other hand, gives more
power on the parole board, which may result in discrimination results
(Portman, 2013). This is because the board may release the less
deserving offenders while prisoners without connection to crime often
receive overly harsh sentences.
In conclusion, both determinate and indeterminate sentences are
effective in deterring crime. The determinate sentence accomplishes this
objective by offering a pre-determined length of the sentence while
indeterminate sentence offers a minimum period provision for periodic
review by the parole board. The main difference between the two types of
sentence results from the judicial agency that is expected to determine
the release time and the length of sentence that can be served for each
type. The predetermined length of sentence improves the effectiveness of
determinate sentence in deterring crime by instilling fear in people
because they know the punishment they are likely to get. Indeterminate
sentence reduces crime enhancing offenders’ reform process while in
Essay two
Compare and contrast the two competing penitentiary systems that
developed in Pennsylvania and New York. How were they similar and how
were they different? On what idea was each other based?
Penitentiary Systems in Pennsylvania and New York
The process of deterring crime in the society has been a challenge with
no promise for complete elimination of crime through judicial
mechanisms. However, the criminal judicial system has undergone
significant reforms with prison design being among the notable changes
that have been done based on different theoretical perceptions. Reforms
in correctional institutions focused on the establishment of an
efficient prison system that would assist the judicial system in
accomplishing the primary objective of reforming the behavior of the
convicts before releasing them back to the society. The Pennsylvania
correction system and Auburn penitentiary model of New York are the two
widely debated penitentiary systems. Pennsylvania system was the first
correctional system and was started in the eighteenth century, but
underwent major reforms (including the structural design of prison
facilities and change of purpose) before the New York system could be
initiated to counter the challenges of the Pennsylvania system (Brown,
2013). Although the two systems are different, they both had a common
purpose of reforming the criminal behavior of the convicts.
The main similarities between the two penitentiary systems results from
the fact that both models used principles that would help in the
management of prisoners and enhance behavioral reforms during the term
of confinement. According to Green (2013) both Pennsylvania and New
York penitentiary systems aimed at achieving the primary goal of the
judicial system using three approaches namely silence, work, and
religious teachings. Silence was considered as a cause and consequence
of law and order in prisons as well as a symbol of authority among the
prison wardens. In addition, the adjustments made in the two systems
aimed at reducing the challenge of prison congestion, in order to
facilitate other functions such as behavioral correction and management
of convicts.
The Pennsylvania penitentiary system was based on idea of optimism,
which would help the correction system to redeem offenders’ innate
goodness because everyone is assumed to harbor some inner light (Green,
2013). An auburn system of New York, on the other hand, was based on the
idea of pessimism, which focus on the utilization of spiritual warfare
to assist human beings in engaging with the corrupt culture of the
Secondly, the Pennsylvania system is also known as the separate system
because it emphasized on solitary confinement of inmates. In this system
prisoners were completely separated from each other and the society at
all times. Communication among themselves was prohibited even when doing
religious studies, handcraft work, and reflection on the misdeeds that
one had committed. The Auburn system, on the other hand, was also
referred to as a congregate or silent system that allowed prisoners to
eat and work together during the day, but go back to solitary cells at
night (Johnson, Dobrzanska & Palla, 2008).
In conclusion, the two penitentiary systems (the Pennsylvania and
Auburn) differed in several respects, but had a common goal of reforming
the behavior of prisoners. The significant reforms that resulted in the
emergence of the two systems were driven by the desire of stakeholders
in the criminal judicial system to change criminals in a way that they
could fit in the society after serving the sentence. The Pennsylvania
system was based on the notion of optimism and focused on the
rehabilitating offenders by restoring their inner goodness. This was
accomplished through solitary confinement. The Auburn system of New York
aimed at enhancing the capacity of inmates in engaging with the world by
overcoming the corrupt culture. This was achieved through a
congregational system where prisoners could eat and work together, but
observing silence.
Essay one
Hayes, S. (2006). The end of determinate sentencing: How California’s
prison problem can be solved with the quick fix and it’s a long term
commitment. Sacramento: California Prison Reform.
Portman, J. (2013). Indeterminate versus determinate prison sentences
explained. Criminal Defense Layer. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from
Essay two
Brown, M. (2013, September 13). The Auburn and Pennsylvania system of
corrections: A controversy. Wikinut. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from
Green, A. (2013). Penal optimism and second chances: The legacies of
American Protestantism and the prospects for penal reforms. Punishment &
Society, 15 (2), 123-146.
Johnson, R., Dobrzanska, A. & Palla, S. (2008). The American prison in
historical perspective: Race, gender, and adjustment. Washington DC: The
American University.

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