Ever hear of this idea?

Early morning, having a smoke and got to thinking of the “Justice System”.

So, I got to thinking… a defendant may choose a Judge to decide his case, or jury or may “plead”. All fine and dandy.

However I started thinking about sentencing. Have you ever heard or thought about “sentencing panels”? From what I understand sentencing is at a judge’s discretion based on guidelines. Again, I was thinking this may work (well - we use it…so it works on some level :smirk:) given normally a judge “knows” the intricacies of the legal system and perhaps “evidence” that may not be made available to the jury.

My point -to get to the point of my thought :thought_balloon:- was;
When a person is legally judged “guilty” would it better serve society if there was an additional step, a panel that could evaluate the emotional, mental, criminal act, etc (perhaps made up of professionals in various fields) and based on trial evidence and other evaluations - render a sentence that may be more appropriate. (Eg. Level of incarceration, facility type, time, isolation from society vs rehabilitation, etc)

I don’t know, just got to thinking…


I found this… I guess I’m wondering how “impartial” are some judges (one person) or risk of bribery when compared to a small grouping.

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Might work. I have read a lot of questionable sentencing by judges in a variety of countries that have revealed either great prejudices or mental instability. The judge could advise, not direct, the ‘panel’ on trickier legal aspects.
I am thinking of one magistrate who had a tendency of minimal sentences against paedophiles. It was thought to be his more humane nature. He was eventually exposed as being a paedophile himself many years later. A sentencing panel may avoid such problems. A judge is only human, after all, and should not be trusted in all things.

Yes… that was my thinking.

Also, at times, when it comes to “white-collar” crimes - “sentencing” is slack and extremely minimal. Again, in some cases it may be appropriate, but again a panel (examining from various angles) most likely (?) wouldn’t be as “influenced” ???

It wouldn’t be perfect, but perhaps a step in a more equitable “sentencing structure” … some “cases” I’ve read and the resulting sentencing or level of facility (mental health issues vs isolation) leave me shaking my head…

In Oz, most cases are decided by judge only, as the result of a plea bargain.

I have never had any faith in trial by jury. To be judged by one’s peers? Rarely because of the number of exemptions. Nor do I accept that guilt or innocence should be judged democratically by people with little or no understanding of the law.

Our legal a system has little if anything to do with justice. I have no confidence that a ‘sentencing panel’ will make decisions based on law rather than emotion.

Judges here will often ignore sentencing guidelines, giving sound legal reasons . Here judges generally loathe sentencing guidelines. This seems to be because they hate being told what to do . More importantly,sentencing guidelines can be in breech of the principle of the separation of powers.

The practice of politically appointed judges has always horrified me.

In much of the US the influence is money.

Especially on the poverty end, overall “conviction rate” for defendants, closely follows the person’s ability to hire a private attorney, and to make bail. Something the poor often cannot do. And once in the criminal justice system in the US, it can be very difficult to get out.

There is always exceptions to this rule, but they are rare.

Our bail system is very different;bail is granted on the basis of a provisional bond. For many offences where flight is deemed unlikely, 'police bail’of $1000 is granted. No payment is made up front. Payment becomes due if the defendant absconds. The court may set a much higher bond, for which surety is needed.Typically this may be one’s house or say a patent’s house. Parent’s have lost their house when ratbag adult child child takes off.

Not quite sure how it works here with lawyers for the poor. My understanding is that if a person does not have the funds to pay $X hundred an hours, the legal service commission will provide lawyer. BUT a lien is placed on the defendant’s house.That becomes payable when the house is sold. The lawyers provided are in no way inferior.

Overall though,once a person is in the system for say petty ,non violent crimes, it’s hard to get out.

Being indigenous, poor, uneducated seem to be significant factors in ending up in prison.

I’ve been told that around 50% of the prisoners in the state’s maximum security prison are illiterate .

2% of our total population are indigenous. They make up 27% of the prison population

Sounds like slightly different methods, but nearly same result.

It is better/more advanced than most of human history, but the system is always slanted towards the rich and powerful.

There certainly should be some input from victims or their families. They’re the ones who have to live in fear of the crim eventually getting out again. They have to turn up for parole hearings year after year to stop a committee of half-wits from letting some violent animal out of its cage to commit mayhem again.

And another thing: No body, no parole. There have been cases where murderers have refused to say where victims’ bodies are located, adding to the grief for families. Those scum should stay buried in a deep, dark cell till they 'fess up.

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There is here in South Australia. Families of victims usually get to appear in court and make a statement,which is taken into consideration when sentencing.

We also have a ‘victims of crime’ section in the office of the crown solicitor. That section oversees monetary payments to the victim and fines paid by miscreants to Victims Of Crime.

I know this because a lawyer friend was in charge of that section for South Australia. As far as I’m aware, payments made to victims remain grossly inadequate.

do you mean to choose an alternative punishment rather than sentence for some crimes ??

If you mean other than a prison sentence, no.

However,sometimes a prison sentence is suspended and other punishments are applied.

That’s another aspect of the system I don’t understand - parole.

When sentenced, it should be served in full.

Do you have any idea of the costs of incarceration?
Parole is not “automatic”. In Canada and Australia one can become eligible for parole but the application is not easy. The outcome is not guaranteed.

It boils down to whether you think that incarceration is designed as punishment or an opportunity or rehabilitation.

I can guarantee that if it was one of your boys you would rather the rehabilitation option.

Regardless of my boys… I view a “separation from society” in two ways - 1. As a rehabilitation measure: see various secular prison systems that work to this end AND this is not obviously a guarantee, but hopefully a step to not “re offend” which I believe is the point.

  1. As a separation from society - period. Depending on criminal actions and other factors (behaviour within the prison system) there are levels of “incarceration” - privileges

IF a rapist gets a 10 year sentence…he should serve his sentence.

COST??? Yes, it costs the Canadian taxpayer too. We pay average $115k to 175k per year for security incarceration (Federal) HOWEVER Provincially, we have a cost $52-60k annually.

We have various systems that first time offenders “go through” depending on age and crime …

I don’t know … I would personally trust a jury and a peer sentencing panel. It’s the lawyers and judges that determine what evidence and quality of evidence is brought to a jury’s consideration.

Oh, and BTW, should one of my boys commit some heinous crime against society AND I know their guilty and they’ve been through the legal system and incarcerated … I WILL still LOVE them because EVERYONE deserves at least one person in their life loving them, regardless. Doesn’t mean I’d approve of their action or their thought process that got them there - BUT I would still be apart of their life.

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Parole is a “good intentions” that got twisted up, and sometimes gone bad type scenario. (Again due to money.)

In the US there is now a huge industry of “jailed at home” with an ankle monitor type deal. If the person can convince the court they are not an immediate threat to society/home and they can afford the cost of ankle monitoring, (usually several hundred dollars a month,) and the jails nearby are at or near capacity (which is a frequent occurrence) then their entire sentencing can involve just an ankle monitor. This is especially frequent in one of the most common arrest/criminal complaints: DUI convictions.

Rehabilitation rates from prison sentences are abysmal in the USA. Less than 50% of those imprisoned go on to live crime free lives afterwards. And that includes all the folks that sat in prison until they were at retirement age. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that these people frequently have little other choice. Stay in prison or possibly face being homeless in the streets.

Parole is common here too. The reason comes down to economics. Over work and/or incompetence of parole boards also seems to be a factor of paroles going pear shaped.

First; because of the cost of keeping a person locked up.

Second;because our prisons are already badly over crowded. Parole is far cheaper in the short term than building new prisons.

Third; violent offenders are also sent to prison to protect the community. Theoretically, prisoners paroled are not supposed to be a danger to society

Thinking outside the box; some minor non violent crimes could be decriminalised; EG most traffic offences could be punished with fines,confiscation of cars and in some cases, life bans of driving. Decriminalising non violent drug offences would drastically reduce the prison population here and in the US.

----------If you want a smaller prison population, redefine ‘indictable offences’

So far, there are no privately owned prisons in Australia as far as I know.

We do not use prisoners as slaves as the US does.***

It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen or heard anyone try to argue that prison is mean to rehabilitate.

My understanding is that ideally, people are put in prison AS punishment, not TO BE punished. That doesn’t seem to be the case in reality.

***this is due to a loophole in the13th amendment of the US constitution:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

I do not disagree on the subject of severe sexual assault, major crime lords, serial killers etc. I would like to see financial crimes given the same weight. All to often those bastards to short time and are back enjoying the fruits of their stash while pensioners and their other marks lose their homes and their sustenance.

The trend has been to place ALL prisoners on a “lock em up and forget them” where much of the ‘crime’ was forced by poverty, mental problems or some other curable condition.

There is precious little effort at rehabilitation, and once outside, a “sink or swim, while I keep my boot on your head” attitude prevails. It is a waste of human resources at the very least.

The trend in the judiciary is to give unrealistically harsh sentences to appease the mob and the Murdochrity.

Recidivism is rare in many crimes, unless forced by circumstance.

And not all crimes are the same. Nor motives,
circumstances, etc.

Some of the “crimes” people are locked up for are ridiculous- others are not.

When I was teaching in prisons ( a very successful drama course. Had really good results so of course was cancelled after a year or so…) it was widely acknowledged that more than 30% of the inmates should not have been there due to mental incapacity, that another 30% were victims of a miscarriage of justice and/or over zealous prosecution.Mostly aboriginal. Probably 20% were a danger to society and basically unfit for release. But would be on a merry go round of release/rearrest until they died. 20% or so deserved to be there and would respond well to rehabilitation/cognitive therapies, work placements etc.

The exact figures for my State in Australia were surveyed in 2005 and are in a volume in the State Library. I dare say I can go look it up.

An unpopular statistic is that familial sex offenders are the category of prisoner least likely to re-offend.
The most likely to re-offend (apart from petty larceny and car theft) is financial crime. Neither considered a priority for rehabilitation.

Me too. Will Bernie Madoff ever be released? Be willing to bet he will be.

George Carlin had an interesting suggestion to help solve the drug problem: Lock up CEO’s of banks which launder the money . Actually, I think he said ‘execute’. Although I applaud the sentiment I can’t see such a practice ever happening in reality.