This article requires an answer to whether either theory of sentencing dominates, which include retributivism (backward looking) and reductivism (frontward looking). It will be essential to review the seeks and goals of sentencing adopted by the legal system in England and Wales, and further analyze the advantages and negatives of both ideas of sentencing talked about. By exploring the topic of sentencing and analyzing different opinions, Acts of Parliament and aspects of sentencing, it will become apparent in this article whether any one theory of sentencing should dominate.
Sentencing is an extremely mentioned subject matter in the legal justice system as there have been controversial ideas whether some phrases given are fair, for example sentencing by geography. Sentencing by geography can be an extremely unfair way of sentencing an offender, as some offenders may happen to be certain specific areas where it is knowledgeable that if captured, the sentence will never be as large as a cause to them committing a crime in another area in the community. This brings focus on whether the criminal justice system provides justice.
Sentencing however has a strong primary objective to safeguard the public, protect public morality also to ensure that justice is done for both subjects and the public. Furthermore, the value of sentencing to the legal justice system is to provide reassurance to the general public and also to promote esteem for the law. It is important that regulations enforces the basic principle that bad guys will be punished accordingly and demonstrates that criminal patterns is not appropriate in population, whether consequence be unpaid work, financial penalties or in some cases, custodial phrases. Judges promote esteem towards the law by sentencing appropriately compared to the crime determined. 'If the sentence is too lenient, the concept is the fact that offenders will not be punished harshly. Many offenders may therefore take part in further criminal conduct, thinking that even if they are eventually apprehended the abuse will be gentle' (Champion, 2008:3). The key reason why judges sentence defendants is in order to punish. 'Punishment is a word widely used with regards to whatever is painful' (Hudson, 1996:1), and occurs when an offence has been devoted and proven. An offender will be required to proceed with unpleasant outcomes even though it could be against their will. This is exactly what makes punishment not the same as other areas of law. The goals of punishment and sentencing provide many answers, some being 'because they need it; to avoid them committing further crimes; to reassure the sufferer that population cares about what has happened to him/her; to discourage other people from doing the same thing; to protect contemporary society from dangerous or dishonest people; to permit offenders to make amends for the harm they have brought on; to make people recognize that laws must be obeyed' (Hudson, 1996:3). However, there will be more seeks to sentencing than punishment alone. These goals include retribution, incapacitation, rehabilitation, deterrence, denunciation and restitution, which are relative to the two theories of sentencing which will be discussed in this essay; retributivism and reductivism.
It is debatable whether sentences should be separately personalized in each case of a legal activity, which could be observed as a fairer way of sentencing to numerous, or whether uniformity in sentencing is more important to the legal justice system. It's important to take in to consideration however, that whenever an offender has committed a criminal offense, another offender may have devoted the same sort of crime but on a lesser or higher level of seriousness, which means that the sentence given should not be the same. This conducts the main element debate between the retributivism theory and the reductivism theory.
Retributivism is one of the primary ideas of sentencing which justifies consequence on the basis that the consequence given is deserved. This theory is often described as backward looking, where the decision of punishment is based on events which have already taken place and is set on the severity of the criminal offense. Retributivism will not try to change actions in offenders, as it bargains only with the offence which has been dedicated, ant the punishment given from the legal justice system is the end of the procedure. A punishment in the view of reductivists must fit the criminal offenses committed. An example of this would be theft. It could not be morally expected to sentence an offender who may have stolen a chocolates bar from a shop exactly like an offender who may have committed theft of your tv set from another store. Both of these different types of items keep different levels of value; therefore abuse should be proportional to the criminal offense. However, it's important in conditions of justice and admiration for regulations that all crimes, disregarding the level of seriousness should be punished. Ashworth (2002) areas:
'Punishment is justified as the morally appropriate reaction to crime: Those who commit offences should have punishment, it is said, and the quantity of consequence should be proportionate to the degree of wrongdoing' (Ashworth 2002:1077).
Proportionality plays a big part in the retributivist theory of sentencing. Proportionality is divided into two sections; ordinal, which relates to how offences are rated in accordance to seriousness; and cardinal proportionality, which pertains to how punishments are rated in accordance to seriousness. This allows the public to understand proportionality in criminal offense, and to provide an understanding regarding what punishments will be likely to be given for the offences determined, which further provides regularity in the law and the legal justice system. Retribution in many views is one of the fairest ways to justice, and referring back to sentencing by geography, the retribution theory of sentencing ensures that the criminal offense is the key factor when sentencing rather than where in fact the offender is from or who the offender may be, as sentencing is dependant on the offence and not the offender.
In the truth of Regina v Decino1993 (Davies 2010:387) 'the offence of theft of money from a phone kiosk was capable of being so serious that only a custodial word could be justified, within the terms of section 1 (2)(a) of the Offender Justice Function 1991'(ibid:387). Because of the public telephone field being regarded as a 'lifeline' by Lord Justice Beldam (ibid: 387), the substance of proportionality identified the sentence of the offender. As the criminal offenses was seen as so possibly serious, the necessity for custodial word was seen to maintain percentage with the seriousness of the offense.
Reductivism is the next theory of sentencing mentioned in this article. Different from retributivism, this theory justifies punishment on the grounds that it can help to reduce future offending. Examples of the seeks of sentencing related to the reductivism theory are deterrence, which seeks to discourage offences in the foreseeable future, rehabilitation, which aims to change just how someone considers offending habit; and incapacitation, which will take the power from an offender to avoid them from re offending in the community, for example, a custodial word. This does not however prevent the offender from re offending whilst in prison; therefore this can be seen as a weaker method of sentencing than the retribution theory. Deterrence has been previously referred to as 'the least effective and least good basic principle of sentencing' (Martin, 2005:176). All three of the aims are frontward looking, but contain some down sides way more than retributivism, for example, if an offender was to be punished by rehabilitated rather than custodial sentence, there is a question concerning whether justice has really been done or whether enough admiration towards the law was been achieved. On the other hand however, reductivism can be seen as a technique to change the way offenders think about criminal offenses, and to change future results with no need of prisons, where research has advised that 'The range of criminals who go on to reoffend within 2 yrs has reached its highest level in a decade' (Sky media).