BCJ2000 Columbia Southern Unit IV American Court System Criminal Essay Unit IV Essay Using your textbook, discuss the American court system. You should inc

BCJ2000 Columbia Southern Unit IV American Court System Criminal Essay Unit IV Essay Using your textbook, discuss the American court system. You should include the following in your discussion: A comparison of the sentencing and court structures of the American court system,A description and a comparison of indeterminate and structured sentencing, A description of the four sentencing options currently employed within the American sentencing structure, And provide examples where each would be an appropriate application for punishment. Your completed assignment should be at least two pages in length. You are required to use at least your textbook. All sources used must be referenced. Paraphrased and/or quoted materials must have accompanying in-text citations and references in APA format. UNIT IV STUDY GUIDE
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit IV
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
3. Compare the sentencing and court structures of the American court system.
3.1 Describe indeterminate and structured sentencing.
3.2 Describe the four sentencing options currently employed within the American
sentencing structure.
Reading Assignment
Chapter 9:
Click here to access the chapter presentation.
Click here to access a PDF file of the presentation.
Unit Lesson
According to Schmalleger (2016), deterrence seeks to influence behavior to inhibit criminal acts. The goal of
specific deterrence is to reduce the likelihood of repeated offenses by those convicted; whereas, general
deterrence seeks to influence those who have not yet committed a crime or who may be tempted to commit a
crime. For example, you know that if you decide to commit a robbery, you will face prison time. Most rational
people will decide not to commit a crime that risks the loss of freedom and are deterred. Similarly, one may
have been convicted and sent to prison for a crime and realize that any future crime will place him or her back
inside, so he or she is deterred from repeating such an offense.
Rehabilitation seeks to reduce the number of crimes committed. This can be done through social and
educational programs such as drug treatment programs as well as psychological treatment and therapy. This
sentencing goal had also been met with much debate with Schmalleger (2016) citing in the 1970s that
although one might enter into a prison-based treatment or rehabilitation program, up to 90% of those
offenders released from prison recidivate. However, evidence is now surfacing that suggests there are
treatment programs that are effective.
Restoration is a sentencing goal that seeks to address the damage done to the victim of the crime. Those
victimized by an offender, or crime, can suffer dramatic physical and psychological injury that can last a
lifetime. Restoration addresses such issues by attempting to make the victim whole again through victims’
assistance and compensation.
Sentencing practices are another key element you must understand in order to have a comprehensive
understanding of the American justice system. Sentencing practices hinge on each of the sentencing goals
just discussed. What you will focus on in this lesson will be the use of indeterminate sentencing.
Indeterminate sentencing seeks to encourage rehabilitation and involves the use of general sentences
(Schmalleger, 2016). This model of sentencing allows discretion by the judge to consider degrees of guilt as
well as an offender’s character in order to decide on an imposed penalty.
As you can imagine, because of this discretion by a judge, much debate surrounds this topic. Some have
questioned how effective indeterminate sentencing can be with a human element as a judge’s personal
philosophy and personality involved. Criticism surrounds this sentencing practice because situations often
end up with either too lenient or too strict of a sentence that is perceived to be based on personal and social
elements such as race, gender, or social class. So, if indeterminate sentencing is not the answer, what
solution is one left with? Another option is structured sentencing. The premise behind structured sentencing
BCJ 2000, Introduction to Criminal Justice
involves the principles of proportionality, equity, and social debt. This form of sentencing,
about in the
1970s, is a mix of sentencing guidelines (Schmalleger, 2016).
Determinate sentencing requires an offender to be sentenced to a set amount of time, a fixed term, which can
be reduced with good behavior. This eliminates the need for parole and clearly outlines the specific
punishment for the specific crime.
Voluntary/advisory sentencing is the application of recommended sentencing policies. These policies are not
required and are usually based on past practices in similar cases. Such guidelines are built on both
determinate and indeterminate sentencing in an effort to provide a balance.
Presumptive sentencing involves three elements:

an appropriate sentence within a range of sentences set forth by sentencing guidelines,
an expectation that a judge will follow that sentencing range or will provide an explanation as to why if
he or she does not follow that range, and
a mechanism, such as an appellate court, for review when there is a departure from the
recommended range. This can be seen when a post-conviction appeal is made.
This unit enabled you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the sentencing structure within the American
criminal justice system. There are many angles from which to look at how punishment is carried out and how
an offender is dealt with once convicted. While this lesson provided two critical factors, sentencing goals and
sentencing practices, you still must decide for yourself what works best to address crime and punishment.
Schmalleger, F. (2016). Criminal justice: A brief introduction. (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Learning Activities (Non-Graded)
Complete the “Questions for Review” at the end of chapter 9.
Click here to access a presentation containing review questions and answers for this unit.
Click here to access a PDF file of the presentation.
Non-graded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to
submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.
BCJ 2000, Introduction to Criminal Justice

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