Punishment Sentencing
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Aggravating circumstances make a crime particularly heinous.

Mitigating circumstances weigh in favor of leniency for the defendant. Examples of mitigating circumstances include, "heat of passion" or "diminished capacity" are forms of such mitigating circumstances.

Only juries can make factual determinations resulting in a tougher sentence. It is unconstitutional for a judge to decide facts.-- US Supreme Court.

Crime and Punishment in America -- Just as violent crime has become part of the accepted backdrop of life in the US, so too has the growth of the system we've established to contain it. A huge and constantly expanding penal system seems to us like a normal and inevitable feature of modern life. But what we have witnessed in the past quarter century is nothing less than a revolution in our justice system, a transformation unprecedented in our own history, or in that of any other industrial democracy.

If the hundreds of American judges who sit on criminal cases were polled as to what was the most trying facet of their jobs, the majority would answer "Sentencing." No act has greater potentialities than the determination of how society treats its transgressors.

How Sentencing Work explains how judges decide what a punishment will be.

The US Sentencing Commission and the Department of Justice agree mandatory minimum sentencing is not a deterrent to crime but increases racial and gender disparities, substantially contributes to prison overcrowding, ix expensive and horribly unjust. It does not eliminate sentencing disparities; it takes sentencing authority away from judges and gives it to prosecutors to use without accountability. Mandatory minimums fail to punish high-level dealers and is the cause of record numbers of women and minorities spending their lives in prison for relatively minor nonviolent crime in many cases.

Restorative justice emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behavior through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders.

Sentencing Guidelines: Reflections on the Future The record of accomplishment of guidelines is mixed. Most observers feel sentencing disparity has been reduced but certainly not eliminated. In some States, guidelines have successfully established truth in sentencing, and in some States they have been somewhat successful in controlling prison population growth. Success or failure can be judged, however, only in light of the goals a jurisdiction has set for its guidelines, and these too vary considerably.

Sentencing Project -- To provide resources and information for the news media and a public concerned with criminal justice and sentencing issues.

National Association of Sentencing Advocates -- Professional organization of sentencing advocates and defense-based mitigation specialists. Members work with defense counsel on behalf of defendants, inmates, and parolees.

Man Who Killed 28 in DWI Crash Released -- Larry Mahoney, responsible for the deaths of 27 people in the worst drunken driving crash in the US, be released from jail.

Derechos - Human Rights -- To work for the promotion and respect of human rights all over the world, for the right to privacy and against impunity for human rights violators.

UK -- It is easier to find the nuclear weapons in Iraq than coherence in the criminal justice system.

UK 'Crime of passion' is no defense Infidelity or nagging should no longer be used as an excuse to escape life for murder. Husbands who claim their partner's nagging or infidelity drove them to kill will face much tougher sentences under a government shake-up of so-called 'crimes of passion'.

Life imprisonment in Australia The history of life imprisonment demonstrates that does not mean imprisonment until death. Potas presents statistics on which offenders receive life sentences and the average term served. He compares indeterminate and determinate sentences, and discretionary and mandatory sentences, with special reference to murder and drug trafficking. He also discusses legislation; truth in sentencing; and recommendations that a prisoner never be released.

July 29, 2007

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