The policy oriented toward providing judges with the information on the costs of sentencing types can be discussed as rather controversial because of the impossibility to predict its potential effects on society. Presenting judges with sentencing costs can change their decisions and be an economically advantageous solution to address the problem of high incarceration costs. On the other hand, risks of applying economy-based solutions in the process on sentencing are critical. Although the offered policy seems to be potentially effective, it has many limitations, and it can be adopted only partially, with reference to cases involving non-violent offenders.
The reason is that the problem of high costs is observed because too many nonviolent offenders are now in prison although some alternatives could be applied to these individuals. For example, a robber can be sentenced to economically beneficial intensive probation instead of a costly prison sentence with the same positive outcomes (Davey, 2010). Thus, “tossing non-violent offenders in prison is an awfully expensive way to try to make our streets safer” (“Should judges be told the cost,” 2010, para. 2). There are five purposes of sentencing, and in relation to non-violent criminals, the focus should be on deterrence, rehabilitation, and restoration. It is possible to achieve these goals when providing these offenders with effective but less costly sentences.
A sentencing process highly depends on judges’ views and decisions. If it is possible to decrease expenses for prison incarceration for states with the help of providing judges with information on sentencing costs, this approach can be applied only in some cases. Thus, it is possible to adopt this policy for selecting the most efficient sentence for non-violent offenders because of the potential contribution to the community.
The decision regarding sentencing for mentally ill individuals is often complex and problematic. It is important to assess and analyze the risks for both a defendant and the community (“Selected state sentencing laws,” 2020). Sentencing options for a seriously mentally ill defendant depend on the threat to society and the severity of crimes, and they may include prison incarceration with providing mental health services and the imprisonment in specialized psychiatric institutions.
The problem is that the risks for mentally ill individuals to be re-arrested after being released are extremely high. The probability increases if these people do not receive adequate mental health care when being imprisoned (“The released,” 2009). A pre-sentence officer’s decision regarding possible sentencing options should depend on the evaluation of the current state of a mentally ill person and patterns in behavior. If a person behaves extremely violently, and there are threats to the community, it is necessary to offer options for incarcerating this person in prison where high-level mental health services are provided. Supporting factors include an offender’s perception of his or her responsibility for the crime and the possibility of further violent behaviors (“The released,” 2009). The mental disease of a person can be so severe that he or she should be both treated and imprisoned to avoid contacts with people. In other cases, mentally ill criminals do not represent the threat to the community, and they can be treated in specific facilities.
From this perspective, the decision of a pre-sentence officer should depend on the analysis and assessment of potential outcomes for society. Additionally, it is also necessary to ensure that a defendant’s rights and needs are also addressed without eliminating the public’s interests. Therefore, there should also be alternatives for mentally ill offenders to be effectively treated and imprisoned depending on the severity of their crime.
Davey, M. (2010). . The New York Times.
(2010). The Week.