This report will aim to find a suitable sentence for Mr S by looking at different sentences such as community sentencing and restorative justice to see which would be more appropriate to help rehabilitate Mr S into society and prevent potential future offences.
The aim of Restorative Justice is to get the offender and victim to meet and address the harm and trauma that has been caused to a victim to attempt to repair the victims harm and prevent an offender from reoffending through communicating in a controlled environment (Restorativejustice.org.uk, 2019). It gives the victim a chance to ask questions to the offender to find out why the crime was committed against them and gain closure from the offender’s answers (Restorativejustice.org.uk, 2019). With the offender and victim coming together to try and resolve collectively how to deal with the implications it has caused on both parties future, it can lead to reoffending rates declining (Marshall,1996). Law Commission (2000) states that Restorative Justice is the most appropriate response to repair criminal behaviour through repairing the harm that had been caused by the criminal act. If MR S took part in Restorative Justice with the Shop Keeper that he stole from, he could see and hear firsthand the impact that the crime had on the Shop Keeper and how it made him feel. By MR S answering the questions that the Shop Keeper wants to ask, it could lead to the Shop Keeper forgiving MR S and with being forgiven it may make MR S believe that he has a chance in life and in turn will Justice will only take place if MR S shows genuine remorse for his actions and wants to chance to explain what made him commit those crimes.
Home Office (1997) proposed the 3R’s for Restorative Justice. The first being restoration, this is where MR S will apologise to his vicitm’s and try to amend the harm that has been caused (Home Office, 1997). The second being reintegration, this is where MR S will repay his debt to society and rejoin the community (Home Office, 1997). Finally, the third is responsibility; where MR S will face the consequences of his actions and take responsibility for the harm that he may have caused to the victim and in turn will hopefully not reoffend again (Home Office, 1997).
Evidence to support Restorative Justice
A content analysis conducted by Sherman and Strang (2007) compared 36 papers of reoffending rates of those who have undergone restorative justice to those who have not. Sherman and Strang (2007) found that restorative justice to be more effective with personal victim and even more effective with violent crimes and property crime such as burglary. It was also found to be effective in giving the victim closure and preventing reoffending rates (Sherman and Strang, 2007). Sherman and Strang (2007) concluded that Restorative Justice is effective for young and first time offenders. Therefore, the results of this study suggest that Restorative Justice will be effective for MR S as it has been found to be beneficial for property crime and by taking part in Restorative Justice it could lead to MR S understanding the consequences of his actions and in turn want to change.
Evaluation of Restorative Justice
Restorativejustice.org.uk (2011) found restorative to be very effective as a 14% reduction in reoffending rates were found in offenders who have taken part in restorative justice and that 85% of victims were satisfied with the outcome and process of restorative justice and 78% of victims would recommend restorative justice to other victims who have been in their situation. This suggests that Restorative Justice is effective in terms of preventing reoffending as offenders will realise the damage that they have caused to an individual and will feel guilt (Restorativejustice.org.uk,2011). It also helps the victim gain closure and ask the offender questions that have been left unanswered from the crimes that had been committed against them which in turn could lead to forgiveness towards the offender instead of resentment (Restorativejustice.org.uk,2011) In addition to this, Restorative justice has helped to reduce victims fear of crime and the anger that they feel towards the offender and increase the likelihood of the offender not reoffending again (Kurki,2003). Von Hirche (2003) states that offender satisfaction has generally been very high as there is no study to show that Restorative Justice has made the offender worse. Furthermore, it has been found that Restorative Justice is more cost effective as with every £1 that was spent on restorative justice, £8 was saved through the reduction of reoffending (Restorativejustice.org.uk,2011).
However, even though there are many strengths to go with the use of Restorative Justice there also is some limitations. The first limitation is that is can cause psychological harm to the victim as they are having to relive a traumatic time of their lives and this can increase when the offender shows no empathy towards them (Cunneen and Hoyle, 2010). Additionally, the victim will sometimes go into the restorative justice and attempt to shame the offender as they feel so much anger towards them, in turn preventing the process from happening and neither offender or victim benefiting from Restorative Justice (Cunneen and Hoyle, 2010). Cunneen and Hoyle (2010) also found that dropout rates are quite high from offenders and this is due to them either not wanting to face the victim as they feel too guilty or they show zero remorse for their actions what so ever.
Community sentences are rehabilitative programmes that are given to offenders that have committed a minor-offences such as property damage, fraud and assault (GOV.UK, 2019). An individual is more likely to be given a community sentence if it is their first time breaking the law or if the Judge deems the individual to be less likely to reoffend after being given community sentencing as a punishment (GOV.UK, 2019). The aim of community sentences are to punish, change, control and help an offender (Ministry Of Justice, n.d.). Ministry of Justice (n.d) state that community sentences punish an offender as they have to complete either compulsory 300 hours of unpaid work, spend at least 12 to 36 hours of in an attendance centre to talk about their behaviour. Through the offender taking part in regular meetings with a probational officer and additional programmes such as anger management to help prevent the underlying reason to why the individual commits crime leads to change (Ministry Of Justice, n.d). However, even though t is seen that the offender has a free way of living and some people believe they are not being punished for the crimes that they have committed the offender is still controlled as they have restrictions to the places they can go and visit and the times they have to home by (Ministry Of Justice, n.d). The ministry Of Justice (n.d) also state that community sentencing help the offender and this is by providing the offender with alcohol/drug and mental health rehabilitiation which could be the reason to why the individual is comminitting the crimes and if they have help with tackling these problems it may in turn prevent future reoffending.
In 2013, The Criminal Justice Act (2003) introduced the ‘generic community sentence’ which combined the different orders together and adjusted them to fit the offenders needs and tailor a suitable sentence whilst also giving the victim justice. There are many different types of community sentences with a few examples being: tags, curfews, restrictions to where an individual can go, drug/alcohol and mental health rehabilitation and finally unpaid work (The Howard League, 2019). Unpaid work can be seen to be the main focus of community sentences as the offender has to take part in 300 hours of constructive community work which includes cleaning up graffiti and picking up litter (The Howard League, 2019). The Howard League (2019) state that the unpaid work is seen as community pay back and is used for the offender to try and make amends with the community from the harm and fear that they may have caused. Community sentences are used to help reintergrate offenders back into the community by providing the offender with basic skills to help them gain a job after the sentence (The Howard League, 2019). In addition to this, community sentences are seen to be cost friendly as it costs the government £100 a day to keep an offender in prison where as it only costs between £25-£37 a day for a community sentence (The Howard League, 2019).
Evidence to Support Community Sentences
The Howard League (2019) states that there has been found to be a 14% reduction in reoffending in those that have been sentenced to a community sentence than those who’s sentence was prison. This is to the Home Office figures that show that individuals who have been sentenced to prison has reoffended within two years than the 51% of individuals who had been given a community sentence (The Howard League, 2019). Further to this, it has been found that community sentences are better than prisons as they help rehabilitate and prepare low risk offenders more effectively to go back into society, rather than a short time in prisons; where they may get used to a ‘prison subculture’ and make friends within the prison which could lead to them reoffending when they finish their sentence (The Howard League, 2019). The Howard League (2019) also state that community sentences reduce prison overcrowding and enable prison workers to help rehabilitate high risk offenders rather than spending their time with low risk offenders who are able to have a community sentence instead.
Evaluation of Community Sentences
One main limitation of Community Sentences is that most offenders have social problems such as poor education, unemployed, homeless and problems with mental health, drugs and alcohol and there is a lack in social skills training and help for addiction and mental health is inadequate which in turn raises the question on whether or not community sentences are appropriate for everyone (Soloman, 2007). In addition to this, Community Sentencing seems to soley focus on unpaid work and therefore this is neglecting the interventions that are involved with community sentences and in turn may not prevent reoffending from occurring (Soloman, 2007). This is due to an individual’s cause of why they commit crime not being treated, for example an individual may commit crimes due to alcohol and drug addictions and without helping to rehabilitate them addictions the offending will continue (Soloman, 2007). In addition to this, the government has stopped using Community Sentencing as much due to more Suspended Sentences being handed out to an offender as community sentences are now seen to be less effective to what they once were (GOV.UK, 2017). GOV.UK (2017) state that this is due to petty crimes not being reported as much as what high risk crimes are so there doesn’t seem to be a need for community sentencing as the offender will more than likely be convicted to prison for the crimes that they have committed.
However, there are many strengths to support Community Sentencing and them working for an offender. Ministry Of Justice (n.d.) state that Community Sentences do work and this comes straight from an offender named Harriet who received an 18 month driving ban and a 12 month community rehabilitation. Harriet States that the Community Sentencing addressed the main issues in her life that lead to her behaviour and her breaking the law which helped her get help with her addiction with alcohol (Ministry Of Justice, n.d). Further to this, Harriet was able to restart her education with the help of her probation officer that created her a programme that lead to her getting back into college and turn her life around and has prevented her from reoffending (Ministry Of Justice, n.d).