You to Be the Judge. Click here to begin the activity
Many things influence
how we understand crime and how we decide what punishments are appropriate including, personal experience, the media, politics, etc. And for many of us, the criminal justice system remains
a mystery. Here's a chance to probe your own sense of right and wrong,
crimes and punishments.
You Be the Judge
is an activity designed to dig deeper than sound bites to
allow visitors to apply their own values to situations often confronted
by the justice system. Using five hypothetical crime scenarios, the
activity asks you to explore your personal ideas about crime
and punishment by selecting the punishment you believe is most appropriate
for the crime described. You can compare your responses to other visitors,
and at the end, you can see how three sample states with varying laws
deal with the same crimes. Please continue on to share your own ideas
and perspectives about criminal justice and how it has impacted your
life by Talking
Back to P.O. V.
To begin, please review the punishments described
below, and then continue to the crimes. You may also link to the glossary,
the filmmaker, or explore other resources
around the issue. Now take the gavel
and explore your own sense of justice.
punishment options below represent a range of sentencing options now generally
available in the U.S. Options vary widely from state to state, and not
all are available in every state. In addition, judges have varying degrees
of flexibility in interpreting sentencing options for convicted criminals.
For example, in many of the 24 states with "Three
Strikes" laws, sentencing
for a 3rd strike offense is generally within a fixed set of options, with
little or no flexibility for judges. For 1st and 2nd offenses, in these
states and others, some crimes carry mandatory penalties while others
allow judges some flexibility within limits set by the legislature.
The cost estimates of the punishments varies from probation, which is
the least expensive, to prison, which is the costliest.
Generally used for less serious offenses, probation is classified
as 'regular' or 'intensive', ranging from supervision once a month
to once a day, with meetings for up to two years. Intensive probation
also includes random drug and alcohol tests. About 60% of U.S. offenders
are on probation.
with Restitution: Generally under the category of
intensive probation, offenders are strictly supervised, as well as
performing community service and/or paying damages or medical bills
for the victim, which can be garnished from wages or gathered by other
House Arrest: Offenders are confined to their homes 24 hours a day for up to one year, excepting permission to go to work or school. Random checks and electronic monitoring are used, as are random alcohol and drug tests. |
Boot Camp: Most often used for younger offenders, the sentences range from three to six months in a military-style camp where offenders are subjected to strict discipline and work. Some camps offer job-training and other educational opportunities. |
Prison/Jail with Parole: Incarceration in a correctional institution, either jail or prison. Jail is generally used for sentences of one year or less, although this varies around the nation. Offenders are considered for parole release after a percentage of time has been served. |
Prison without Parole: Incarceration in a prison without the opportunity to apply for parole after a percentage of time is served. |
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