Prison Term Policy Recommendation Paper

Prison Term Policy Recommendation Paper

The subject in will examine legislation aimed at a bill recommending doubling the maximum prison term for anyone convicted of armed robbery. Questions will be explored and evaluated as to whether or not the new sentencing would influence crime prevention or make citizen feel safer. Consideration of whether a not the bill would do much good will be revealed along with reasons for reaching such a conclusion.

It can be argued that anyone who has ever been a victim of a crime will most likely be in favor of lengthier sentencing for convicted offenders. The notion that criminals who are convicted come out and commit more crimes increases the odds that there will be more victims. The legal system is controlled by rules and laws that protect the rights of the accused. This report will examine proposed legislation aimed at doubling the sentences for offenders convicted of armed robbery. According to information at, sentencing guidelines for armed robbery are generally very severe. However, many factors play into those guidelines. First, armed robbery is almost always considered a class one, or class A felony. Those are crimes of the most serious nature, which often incur the longest and most harsh prison sentences (, 2010). A recommendation for or against a bill increasing punishment guidelines for this crime will be researched and reviewed for its effectiveness against offenders receiving lighter sentences. It will take into account current sentencing guidelines for armed robbery offenses and reveal recommendation on why the increase sentencing may or may influence crime statistics either way and what cost to taxpayers and prison overcrowding.

The Case for Stiffer Penalties for Armed Robbery Convictions
Research points to different rules and laws for armed robbery depending on the state where the offense occurs. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report Website, Nationwide in 2010, there were an estimated 367,832 robberies. The estimated number of robberies decreased 10.0 percent from the 2009 estimate and 18.1 percent from the 2006 estimate (, 2010). Although these numbers show documented proof that robberies were less prevalent over a four year span, there are some states that may contribute to harsher penalties for convicted offenders. For example, information obtained from website reveal New York's armed robbery laws are very strict and inflict harsh penalties on perpetrators. In fact, children are often charged as adults when they take any part in armed robbery. For example, a child that poses as a lookout while other young adults take part in robbing a store will likely face the same charges at the child holding the weapon. Like New York, many states treat armed robbery as a serious offense, which incurs harsh prison sentences (, 2010).

Current legislation is proposing a bill aimed at doubling the sentence for offenders convicted of armed robberies. Many supporters of the bill argue that many offenders end up back on the streets committing the same crime that put them away in the first place. There are some theorist and criminology experts who argue that recidivism rates can be improved and offenders don’t have to be locked up twice as long to reduce armed robberies. Information from the FBI’s 2010 Uniform Crime Report lends support this premise. Additionally, there are some well known criminologists that believe it will not make much of a difference at all. For example, Jeff Gerrit, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press quotes dialogue from a report from University of Mary criminologist, Gary LaFree indicating more effiencent methods of policing may hold the key (detroitfreepress, 2011). It can be argued that law enforcement follow patterns that provides them with data of areas where robberies are more prevalent. Some may argue that the use of some type of profiling usually works to the benefit of investigators who are looking into an armed robbery. According to Frank Schmalleger, “profilers develop a list of typical offender characteristics and other useful principles by analyzing crime-scene and autopsy data, in conjunction with interviews and studies of past offenders, in the belief that almost any form of conscious behavior (including behavior engaged in by the offender during a criminal episode) is symptomatic of the individual’s personality (Frank Schmalleger, 2012).” Although, many will argue locking offenders up longer will resolve many issues and protect homes and business from armed robberies, there hasn’t been much evidence either way that it would be any more effective.

A Case for Alternative Measures to Incarceration and Increased Sentencing
Arguably more prison time for any offenders puts more strain on state budgets. Correctional facilities are faced with the possibilities of overcrowded conditions that in essence put correctional officers and inmates at risk. According to sworn testimony by Professor Craig Haney, reporting to the prison commission in Santa Cruz, California, “when prison environments become unduly painful, they also become harmful, and prisoners carry the effects or consequences of that harm back into the free world once they have been released (Haney, 2006).” Additionally, Haney notes, prison systems that grow at an alarming rate risk the chance of losing their organizational stability (2006). Alternative solutions to more prison times are often recommended by states whose budgets can’t absorb the overwhelming cost of housing inmates. Arguably, all armed robbers are not necessarily hardened criminals. Some of them commit robberies out of acts of desperation; although there is no excuse for anyone committing a crime, there should be some leniency based on circumstances, criminal record, and other mitigating factors that would not benefit them to be imprisoned twice as long due to this bill’s passage. Additionally, one can argue that our current system does not give many sentencing options to offenders other than imprisonment. The current state of prison populations lends support to this premise just by the mere number of offenders already behind bars. According to Marc Mauer at a Civil Liberties website, “the United States has now become the world leader in its rate of incarceration, locking up its citizens at 5-8 times the rate of other industrialized nations (Mauer, 2006).

Published documents from a 1999 meeting of the Justice Departments Executive Sessions on Sentencing and Corrections argued that “if courts and corrections are to work in harmony (which our collective interest in justice and public safety requires they do), more than incremental investments in generic penal measures are needed (Dickey & Smith, 1999).” The article’s content carried a strong message of how correctional facilities and courts needed to understand the enormity of sentencing and punishment and the effect if would have on state and federal budgets in future housing of prisoners.

According to Burk Foster, “the bulk of America’s roughly 1 million men and women convicted felon are confined in institutions operated by state governments (2006, pg 121).” For this reason state prison are strained and are subjected to more issues that come with people who are incarcerated. Additionally Foster notes, there is no standard model that shows how a department of corrections should be structured or how the relationship of the various state, local, and private correctional agencies should be organized (2006). Prison populations have risen significantly over the years and show no signs of slowing down. The safety of prisoners and correctional employees are compromised due to the problems of overcrowding. State prisons can only see decreases in populations if punishments are handed down that down always involve jail time and there is a real solution for improving recidivism. According to Foster, “corrections most often relies on recidivism, defined as a former inmate returning to custody, as the standard measure of success or failure (2006, pg 122).”

Criminal sentencing models are important to the creation of more innovative ways to deal with convicted criminals without putting more strains and pressures on state and federal correctional facilities. There is also the question of determining what convicted criminals qualify for these alternatives to jail time. According to Dr. Bruce Western, "the fraction of the population in state and Federal prison has increased in every single year for the last 34 years. The rate of imprisonment today is now five times higher than in 1972. The US rate of imprisonment is five to ten times higher than in the longstanding democracies of Western Europe, and is only rivaled, though not exceeded, by the incarceration rates of South Africa and Russia (Western, 2007). Arguably, jails don't have to continue to grow and become more of a strain on state economies if our lawmakers examined the cause and of the problems and work aggressively with the trained criminologist and law enforcement agencies to reduce its rate of incidence.

The Recommendation
Due to the complex nature of issues eminent in prison overcrowding, a recommendation for doubling sentencing for offenders who commit armed robberies will not do much good in rehabilitating criminals are making citizens safer while they are away. The constitution of the United States protects convicted criminals from inequalities that may hide within more stringent penalties. “The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment for federal crimes. The amendment states, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted." The DUE PROCESS CLAUSE of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars the states from inflicting such punishment for state crimes, and most state constitutions also prohibit the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment (” Due to these fine lines clearly stated in the Constitution, a recommendation cannot be made at this time in support of a bill that would double sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of armed robbery.

Relying on state and federal correctional systems to run prisons, rehabilitate prisoners, and maintain an organized system where its employees and inmates are safe is not attainable without alternatives to sentencing. The future of state and federal system will continue to face numerous challenges if a closer relationship with trained criminologists, state courts, law enforcement, and innovative technology is not employed more. It arguably can have a tremendous impact on citizen safety, prison operations, and alleviate much of the strain prison overcrowding currently has on federal and state budgets. Good partnerships, experts in the field, and information sharing from professional trained in criminal law can lead to improved citizen confidence and lower recidivism rates. There are no cut and dry solutions that will eliminate crime in our very complex society. Employing techniques that aids in controlling it works better than the revolving door harsher sentencing ultimately creates.

Criminal Laws. (2011). Sentencing and Punishment. Retrieved from

Dickey, J. W., & Smith, M. E. (1999). Reforming Sentencing and Corrections for Just Punishment and Public Safety. Retrieved from

Foster, B. (2006). The Fundamentals (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Gerritt, J. (November, 2011). Other Bg Cities Find ways to cut Violence. Retrieved from

Haney, C. (2008). Prison Overcrowding: Harmful Consequences and Dysfunctonal Reactions; Testimony of Professor Craig Haney University of California, Santa Cruz. Retrieved from craig.pdf

Mauer, M. (2011). America Has Become Incarceration Nation. Retrieved from

The Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2010). Uniform Crime Report/Armed Robberies/Crime in the U.S.. Retrieved from

The Legal Dictionary. (2011). Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Fourth & Eighth amendment. Retrieved from

Western, D. (2007). Increasing Prsion Populations FDCH Congressional Testimony.. Retrieved from