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chapter 17 textbook notes

by: Melissa Kaufman

chapter 17 textbook notes 1300-03

Marketplace > Tulane University > Sociology > 1300-03 > chapter 17 textbook notes
Melissa Kaufman
GPA 3.8

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notes from the textbook on chapter 17, covers every section in the chapter
John Hall
Class Notes
#textbooknotes, #chap17
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Melissa Kaufman on Monday April 25, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 1300-03 at Tulane University taught by John Hall in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 21 views. For similar materials see Criminology in Sociology at Tulane University.


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Date Created: 04/25/16
Criminology chapter 17 textbook notes: Prosecution and Punishment Main issues: the extent that social inequality affects the exercise of legal discretion and the extent to which reliance on the criminal justice system can reduce crime Criminal Courts and the Adversary System  Adversary system is a myth: hard to afford good attorneys so the defendant ends up having to plead guilty Poor Defendants  Their lawyers don’t care about them  Lawyers just want money  Pretend they are doing a lot but they aren’t really doing anything (confidence game)  Double agents—working with prosecutors to get guilty pleas rather than defending their client  Plea bargaining Prosecutors, Courtroom Work Group and Plea Bargaining  A lot work burdens all people involved in the court process  Everyone wants to resolve the cause as quickly as possible: best way is through a guilty plea  Prosecutors don’t take a case unless they are confident that the jury would find the defendant guilty: this leads to a lot of dropped felony arrests b/c of weak evidence, lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses How to decide which cases to drop or plea bargain: 1. serious offense 2. injured victim 3. eyewitnesses, recovered weapons, stolen property 4. defendants use of a weapon 5. defendant has serious prior records 6. a “stand-up” victim that jury would feel is undeserving of victimization  fear that plea bargaining lets serious offenders off too easily Punishment, Social Structure and Inequality  small traditional societies have a collective conscience: strong shared norms and values  these societies engage in repressive law when deviance occurs  this is noted with harsh physical punishment  in large societies, this is weaker, dealt with by restitutive law  this is noted with an interest in restoring relationships to their previous state  restitution=punishment  inequality is a key part in the severity of punishment  ruling class is able to keep power by controlling the minorities Economic Conditions and Punishment  not a clear relationship between unemployment and high incarceration rates  Postbellum period and African Americans: more blacks were incarceration because there was a fear of them gaining power after being freed from slavery Social Class and Legal Outcomes  Poor and less poor’s sentencing doesn’t vary greatly  But there is very little income variation between these groups in studies  Wealthy are much more able to contest evidence because they can pay for better lawyers  Clearest class differences is seen when comparing poor people accused of street crime to rich people accused of white collar crime  More likely to receive a prison term if person comes from a poorer neighborhood  But being from poorer neighborhoods was not related to the time in jail sentenced Impact of Race and Ethnicity  Charges are most severe when African Americans are victimizing whites  More serious charges against blacks for the same crimes that whites commit  Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be in prison than whites  Minorities have longer prison terms and more likely to be incarcerated  Harsher sentencing for less serious crimes  Liberation hypothesis: “the most serious cases there is little room for prosecutorial or judicial discretion to affect the sentence because a severe sentence is clearly in order. In less serious cases, more discretion is possible and thus greater opportunity exists for racial bias. Less serious cases thus liberate judges to use their discretion and also base sentencing decisions on racial prejudice.” (358)  In areas with a higher population of blacks there are higher imprisonment rates too  Race and ethnicity are more closely tied to the decision to incarcerate rather than the sentencing length The Drug War Revisited  Racial and ethnic discrimination are consistent for 2 types of sentencing: 1. Death penalty and 2. The war on drugs (targets African Americans and Latinos)  Crack v. powdered cocaine  Since blacks used crack more often there was a harsher punishment for crack than powder cocaine and so more blacks were in jail for longer periods of time  Today, blacks make up almost 45% of all state prisoners in jail for drug offenses  1/3 of young black males (ages 20-29) are under correctional supervision either in jail, prison, probation or parole Gender and Sentencing  men make up 93% of all prison inmates in the US  men are more likely to commit serious crimes  so there are obviously more men in prison  in the juvenile system girls are treated more harshly than boys for status offenses but boys are treated more harshly for more serious offenses  for adults, women are 10-25 % LESS likely than men with similar offenses to be incarcerated  gender does not relate to the length of sentencing  judge’s and prosecutors beliefs that women are less of a threat to society  fear that women’s families would suffer too much Impact of Punishment on Crime  get tough approach  longer prison terms  mandatory minimum prison terms  three strikes policy (at your 3 felony you get really long sentences)  death penalty  get touch is more prominent in the Western world  due to this approach, there are massive amounts of people in jail  overcrowded jails = need for more jails = spending a lot of money  deterrence argument: harsher punishment reduces crime  incapacitation argument: society is protected when dangerous criminals are behind bars  but, harsher punishment does NOT reduce crime and it is definitely not economically Evidence against a Deterrent Effect  decreases in crime rates not necessarily mean there will be a huge decrease in incarceration  at the state level, there is not a strong or consistent relationship between the severity of punishments and crime rates  system capacity argument: it is just as likely that states with lower crime rates and less crowded prisons can afford to keep their prisoners in jail for a longer time  decreases in crime rates do not occur after the establishment of harsher penalties for certain crimes  the large increase in prisoners has forced early releases of the previously locked up offenders already in jail Evidence against an Incapacitation Effect  keep society safer by locking people up  this argument assumes that we do not have enough people already in prison  it is hard to sometimes identify the dangerous offenders who need to be imprisoned  ignores the fact that extra people put into prison only account for a small number of offenders and they will end up being replaced on the streets with other offenders  the money spent on prisons and prison space is wasted  gross incapacitation: incarcerating large numbers of offenders  would not reduce the crime rate to any significant amount  could make crime problem WORSE: new offenders arrested likely to be minor offenders and their experience with the criminal justice system and gaining a criminal record would likely increase the chances of them committing more crimes and more serious crimes; also it is damaging to urban communities (taking away young men) this increases social disorganization The Death Penalty Debate  3 proponent arguments 1. people convicted of horrible murders deserve to be put to death 2. the death penalty saves money that would be used on years of imprisonment in they were to serve a life sentence 3. the death penalty sends a strong message to potential murders and has a deterrent effect on homicide  opponents: death for death raises philosophical and religious issues -why kill people to show people that killing people is not ok? -counter-intuitive? -hypocritical? Cost of Death Penalty  death penalty is more expensive than keeping someone in jail for their entire life General Deterrence and the DP  studies find that it does not deter future murders  states with the DP do NOT have lower murder rates than states without it  murder rates don’t decrease after a DP case  brutalization effect: executions desensitize the public to the immorality of killing so in turn it actually INCREASES the likelihood that someone would choose to murder another individual Arbitrariness and Racial Discrimination in the Application of the DP  imposing the DP in some cases but not others (inconsistency, randomness)  Furman v. Georgia case ^ (DP violated the 8 amend. –cruel and unusual punishment)  Bifurcated juries: first decide on whether or not the defendant was guilty, then decide on whether or not to impose the DP  Aggravating: murder committed during another felony  Mitigating: defendant had no prior criminal history  Similar crimes are being punished differently around the US  Sentencing and punishments seem random  Lives of white victims are more valued than blacks  Death sentences are more likely when the victim is white, wealthy and a “respectable” member of society Quality of Legal Representation of Capital Defendants  Most defendants are poor and get bad legal representation  Rely on assigned counseling  Public attorneys are less experienced and less likely to positively handle a death penalty case  Especially true in the south Wrongful Executions  People are found to be innocent that were going to receive the death penalty  Mistakes are made in cases  Once executed you can’t be released from jail…


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