Why is sentencing is large part of our justice system?

Criminal Justice Act 2003

Section 142 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 states that any court dealing with an adult offender must consider the following reasons for passing a sentence; 

  • The punishment of the offender for breaking the law
  • To reduce the levels of criminal activity
  • To reform and rehabilitate previous offenders back into society
  • To protect the public from harm and crime
  • To put right and compensate the victims of the crime

Punishing offenders

The concept of punishment is used to show offenders that their behaviour is unacceptable and to provide justice to the victims of their crimes and society as a whole. This may also be called retribution, the revenge that society and victims can take from the offender.

The reduction of crime

Crime is something society wishes to completely eradicate. By imposing sentences on offenders as a form of punishment for their actions it takes on a deterrent effect. If society can see that when people break the law and act against the conformity of society then they may be ‘put off’ offending in the future, whether this is a first time offender or a repeat offender.  

Deterrence can take two forms. Individual deterrence, which will discourage a particular person from committing future crimes, or, general deterrence which will act as warning to society that illegal behaviour will not be tolerated and will be punished.  

The only problem with using sentencing as a deterrent is that where murder holds a very severe punishment and sentence, this will not deter a petty car thief and vice versa.

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For more information on:

  • Reform and rehabilitating offenders back into society
  • Protecting the public from criminal activities and violence
  • Putting right the wrongs