Essay Example on One of the most decisive benefits of public Engagement








One of the most decisive benefits of public engagement in the sentencing procedure is the fact that through public inclusion in the elite circles the legitimacy of the courts and of the sentencing process will be definitely enhanced According to Indermaur 2009 p 14 A publicly acceptable sentencing policy is one which can ensure accountability transparency and legitimacy Sentencing policy can be reformed and repair legitimacy by providing a co gent system for determining the sentence and also include the public into the process of developing that system At this point it is crucial to cite what is meant by referring to the broad notion of legitimacy in the field of sentencing The perceived legitimacy of the criminal justice system is founded upon the extent to which members of the public consider the decisions taken to be fair and reflect consensual values Roberts 2011 From this point of view the legitimacy in the field of criminal sentencing should be considered in relation to people's views and attitudes towards the current correctional system The issue of lack of confidence in the courts and the consequent perceived illegitimacy reflects that the courts and the judges are not viewed as legitimate transparent and responsive organizations in the public eyes Indermaur 2012 Based on this approach legitimacy is perceived as justified credibility Bennet 2014 and is strongly related to whether the outcomes of judges decisions are perceived by the public as legitimate

Thus the active public involvement in the sentencing procedure will ad vance judicial accountability and transparency respectively However the public that will be involved in sentencing procedure should be adequately informed and deliberated about the fundamental sentencing principles and should also be ready to become responsible for the process of forming sentencing policy Price Neijins 1998 Furthermore another justification for the link between people's views and legitimacy of sentencing is strongly related to the communicative nature of sentencing Roberts 2011 This argument is based on the fact that the communication of blame has to be to some extent connected with the respective public consensus otherwise there will be a gap between what community and courts consider to be blameworthy Roberts 2011 Demands for Accountability and Transparency Democratization of sentencing Another supportive argument of public involvement in sentencing policy is that the judicial discretion will be restrained judges and courts will become more accountable for their decision making procedure and judicial system will be better protected from political exploitation Indermaur 2012 Therefore such engagement will improve the quality of sentencing procedure and will also foster the transparency and the accountability of the current correctional system Indermaur 2012 Additionally another crucial benefit is the democratization of sentencing policy 

A significant debate at this point is between those who advocate that democracy is compatible with at least some significant decisions being made by representatives and those who believe that democracy has to be direct Bennet 2012 p 12 For example if there were a democratic control over sentencing decisions by a well informed and educated public then democracy would be direct and would accomplish its purposes Moreover according to Johnstone 2000 the democratization of sentencing policy demands the development of a participatory model through the engagement of a well informed and educated public THE CASE AGAINST INCORPORATING PUBLIC VIEWS AT SENTENCING On the other hand there are crucial arguments against public involvement in the sentencing procedure These arguments are examined in the following paragraphs Public Ignorance of Sentencing Volatility of their Views It has been widely supported that public knows little about fundamental sentencing principles and therefore the sentencing system cannot rely upon their engagement in any principled approach Durham 1985 Moreover according to Reasons 1974 p 375 corrections is the part of the criminal justice system that public knows less about

This argument reflects the attempt of the elicits to maintain their authority over the sentencing system which they assume to be their field of expertise Dzur 2012 However in accordance with many surveys conducted several limitations of public awareness in the field of sentencing have been documented especially regarding the basic principles the custodial sentence as well as the community based penalties Roberts 2011 The body of current research establishes that people s views of sentencing are primarily influenced by penal populists and are extremely volatile because they can change any time in response to what is presented in the media Therefore public decisions and attitudes towards sentencing tend to be more punitive and emotionally influenced Indermaur 2012 Based on that point of view many perceive the public and the media as threats to the sentencing policy that have to be neutralized otherwise they will turn the sentencing system into a more punitive and less humane regime

 Indermaur 2012 Public Opinion as a Source of Punitiveness Another challenge to public engagement in the sentencing field is that people's attitudes towards sentencing are unprincipled and reveal bias against a specific group of people the offenders Roberts 2011 Such attitudes are not compatible with the fundamental sentencing principles and reflect public orientation to punitiveness rather than rehabilitation which is one of the most important goals of sentencing Roberts 2011 Hence public involvement is perceived by elites as a crucial hindrance to sentencing reform as the procedure of determining liability and allocating punishments should not be influenced by emotions but should be based on rational thinking and principled deliberation Roberts 2011 Furthermore many punitive and intolerant sentencing policies such as the three strikes are closely linked to public opinion and their support for the tough on crime approach Roberts 2011 From this perspective the punitively oriented public remains one of the main sources for harsher punishments and more punitive correctional sanctions Roberts 2011

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