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Classifying Offenders, Sentencing Systems, and Sentencing Issues (From Corrections in the United States: A Contemporary Perspective, Third Edition, P 30-78, 2001, Dean J. Champion -- See NCJ-185013)

NCJ Number
Dean J. Champion
Date Published
49 pages
This chapter discusses types of offenses, the classification of offenders, purposes of sentencing, types of sentencing systems, sentencing hearings, the presentence investigation report, aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and some sentencing issues.
Types of offenses are explained under the categories of misdemeanors and felonies and violent and property crimes. The section on the classification of offenders outlines traditional offender categories (first offenders, situational offenders, and recidivists and career criminals), as well as special types of offenders. The latter include drug-dependent offenders, mentally ill offenders, sex offenders and child sexual abusers, physically handicapped offenders, and offenders with HIV/AIDS. The chapter then provides an overview of the purposes of sentencing, which are retribution, deterrence and prevention, just-deserts and justice, incapacitation and control, and rehabilitation and reintegration. A section then addresses the following types of sentencing systems: indeterminate sentencing, determinate sentencing, presumptive or guidelines-based sentencing, and mandatory sentencing. A brief description of the purpose and characteristics of sentencing hearings is followed by an explanation of the content and purposes of the presentence investigation report. Aggravating circumstances that may intensify the severity of punishment are listed, followed by a list of mitigating circumstances, i.e., factors considered by the sentencing judge to lessen the crime's severity. The concluding section on sentencing issues considers sentencing disparities (race, gender, age, and socioeconomic factors); correctional resources and their limitations; the economics of systemic constraints; and jail and prison overcrowding problems. Key terms, questions for review, and 5 suggested readings