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Mandatory, Determinate and Indeterminate Sentencing

Mandatory, determinate, and indeterminate were identified as three sentencing structures present in the American judicial system. Define each of these sentencing structures. Compare and contrast the impact that each sentencing structure has on the offender as well as on the judge imposing the sentence.

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Mandatory Sentencing:
Mandatory sentencing is a type of structured sentencing that requires a set minimum amount of time to be served for specific crimes. The nature of mandatory sentences means that offenders do not have a chance to be released early. They must serve the full mandatory sentence. Mandatory sentences also mean that there is a great deal of uniformity among sentences for different offenders. In other words, different offenders committing the same types of crimes are likely to be serving similar sentences. These types of sentences are typically applied to specific types of crimes, such as federal drug offences, or for repeat criminals who have committed "three strikes" (Schmalleger, 2012, p. 348).

Mandatory minimum sentences severely limit judicial discretion. Judges must adhere to mandatory sentencing laws and cannot issue an alternate sentence for any reason. This could be frustrating for judges who believe that another sentencing option might be more effective or more appropriate. For instance, a repeat drug offender could be sentenced to life in prison under a three strikes law. However, a judge might believe that sending the offender to a drug treatment program would be the most appropriate sentence but the judge must adhere to mandatory sentencing laws.

Determinate Sentencing:
Like mandatory sentencing, determinate sentencing is also a type of structured sentencing. It requires convicted offenders to serve a set or fixed amount of time. When that ...

Solution Summary

This library solution provides an overview of three sentencing structures: Mandatory, determinate and indeterminate. The three sentencing structures are also compared and contrasted according to their impact on offenders and judges.