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Criminal Justice: Role of Court Administrators in Ensuring Appropriate Sentencing

3 pages
714 words
George Washington University
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Sentencing is perhaps the most problematic area in the administration of justice. It is one of the issues that have adversely tainted the name of the judicial systems in most countries. Whereas alternative sentencing exists, the judges and prosecutors (court administrators who play a crucial role in punishing the offenders) may have underperformed their roles concerning the issuance of appropriate sentences to offenders. To impose appropriate sentences on the offenders, court administrators must appropriately play their roles in determining the necessary punishment by sufficiently examining the underlying factors.

Indisputably, it is the role of the judge to determine punishment for a crime. Nevertheless, a judge must issue a conviction decision within the confines of a statute to which the offender is convicted under (Schmalleger et al., 2014). It is important to note that sentencing procedures are governed by the laws and the constitution. The statute that a criminal offender is convicted under provides the appropriate sentence deemed necessary to punish such a crime. The statute provides the minimum and the maximum sentence. For example, a statute could say that a conviction for theft results in 3 to five years imprisonment. It is the role of the judge to interpret such statutes to ensure that an appropriate sentencing is imposed. An appropriate sentence will be one that meets the criterion outlined in the criminal statute under which the offender is convicted.

Similarly, it is the role of the judge to consider other sentencing laws and state or federal sentencing guidelines that may be appropriate to the crime committed (Schmalleger et al., 2014). For example, if the offense falls under a certain category of crime such as drug trafficking and the state involved has a tough policy against such crime, the judge may raise the punishment to its maximum to serve as a deterrence to such form of crime. However, the sentencing guidelines will always require a judge to use a chart to determine the category of the crime and the corresponding appropriate sentencing where alternative sentencing exists.

Also, the judge determining the appropriate punishment for an offender must consider mitigating and aggravating factors within the case. Every case presents negative and positive factors about the crime and the offender. It is the role of the judge to balance these positive and negative factors to determine the appropriate sentence (Dhami, Belton & Goodman-Delahunty, 2015). Mitigating factors include willingness and remorsefulness of the offender to take responsibility for own actions, mental health of the offender, whether it is the first offense from the offender and proof of rehabilitation among other life factors. Aggravating circumstances include the seriousness of the crime, previous criminal history and the extent of the injuries to the victim. By considering the mitigating and aggravating factors, the judge will likely come to an appropriate sentencing. For example, if an offender demonstrates immense proof of rehabilitation, a judge may consider parole which is less punitive punishment for an offender who has shown positive change.

The prosecutors play a crucial role in determining appropriate sentencing by consideration of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. For example, prosecutors play a significant role in outlining evidence of aggravating evidence that would advance a harsh punishment for the offender (Tonry, 2017). The prosecutors demonstrate the severity of the injuries suffered by the victim as well as the record of similar convictions committed by the offender that will ultimately lead to a harsher punishment. However, the prosecutors should skilfully prosecute a case in a fair manner to assist the court in receiving submissions appropriate to the facts to aid in a fair sentence issued at the end of the trial (Tonry, 2017).

Therefore, the court administrators should work together in ensuring that the submissions used in the case are appropriate to the case facts to warrant appropriate sentence. The prosecutors should play a crucial role in outlining the aggravating and mitigating factors for the judges to consider them in issuing appropriate sentences after considering the criminal statutes and sentencing guidelines.



Dhami, M. K., Belton, I., & Goodman-Delahunty, J. (2015). Quasirational models of sentencing. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4(3), 239-247.

Schmalleger, F., Donaldson, S., Kashiwahara, K., Koppal, T., Chase, S., Brown, A., ... & Marash, D. (2014). Criminal justice today. Prentice Hall.

Tonry, M. (2017). Making American Sentencing Just, Humane, and Effective. Crime and Justice, 46(1), 441-504.


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