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Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines and Special Interest Groups as Policy Makers - Essay Example

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1. Read Case Study 3.2 in the Welsh/Harris text (beginning on p. 115). Are mandatory sentencing guidelines "good policy" Are they effective at addressing the problem that they seek to resolve Let's discuss the pros and cons of the policy.
"Mandatory sentences are based on two goals-deterrence and incapacitation…
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Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines and Special Interest Groups as Policy Makers
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1. Read Case Study 3.2 in the Welsh/Harris text (beginning on p. 115). Are mandatory sentencing guidelines "good policy" Are they effective at addressing the problem that they seek to resolve Let's discuss the pros and cons of the policy.
"Mandatory sentences are based on two goals-deterrence and incapacitation. The primary purpose of modest mandatory prison terms (e.g., three years for armed robbery) are specific deterrence, which applies to already sanctioned offender, and general deterrence, which aims to deter prospective offenders. If the law successfully increases the imprisonment rate, the effects of incapacitation also will grow because fewer offenders will be free to victimize the population at large. The intent of three-strikes (and even two-strikes) laws is to incapacitate selected violent offenders for very long terms-25 years or even life. They have no specific deterrent effect if those confined will never be released, but their general deterrent effect could, in theory, be substantial." In this regard, mandatory sentencing guidelines appear to be good policy when it comes to deterring potential criminals from committing crimes, but that is not necessarily the case if a criminal has already be incapacitated. It is more of a case of setting an example for others.
There are pros and cons to mandatory sentencing, but they seem to vary upon different factors such as location in the country. First of all, let us take a look at the possession of handguns. The case study mentions, for example, possession of unlicensed handguns in Massachusetts and how the law has been effective there. The same law, however, has not been effective in Michigan and Florida. However, it has bee effective against homicide in Detroit, Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, though it has not been effective against other types of violent crimes, such as sexual offenses (Case Study 3.2 2008).
2. What role do special interest groups play in Congressional criminal justice policy making How do such groups seek to influence policy making at the legislative level Is the existence of these groups and the role they play an enhancement or a hindrance to the creation of effective, responsive criminal justice programs
"An interest group (also advocacy group, lobby group, pressure group or special interest group) is an organized collection of people who seek to influence political decisions and policy, without seeking election to public office. They are a component of a pluralist democracy" (Wikipedia 2008).
There are several different types of special interest groups: Sectional (represent special interest of members), Promotional (want to influence policy in a certain area and what we are referring to here) and Fire Brigade (lobby on a certain issue).
"A group may have more influence if it has a large membership, adequate funding, reflects public opinion or is supported by the media. Trades unions also have the sanction of being able to strike and other groups can organize demonstrations. An insider group is one that has strong influence on policy and is actively consulted on legislation with good access to political decision makers. An outsider group lacks influence on policy and is given little or no access to politicians. The status of a group can change over time as political parties come into power" (Wikipedia 2008).
References
Case Study 3.2. "The Goals of Mandatory Sentencing." 2008.
"Interest Group." 2008. Wikipedia. Online. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interest_group Read More
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