Punishing Persistent Offenders: Exploring Community and Offender Perspectives

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Despite very diverse approaches towards punishing crime, all Western jurisdictions punish repeat offenders more harshly (a practice known as the recidivist sentencing premium) . For many repeat offenders, their previous convictions have more impact on the penalty they receive than the seriousness of their current crime. Why do we punish recidivists more harshly? Some sentencing theorists argue that offenders should be punished only for the crimes they commit - not for the crimes committed and paid for in the past. From this perspective, punishing repeat offenders more severely amounts to double punishment. Having been punished once for an offence, the recidivist will pay for the crime again every time he re-offends. Is this fair?

This volume explores the nature and consequences of the recidivist sentencing premium on both the theoretical and empirical levels. It begins by exploring the justifications for treating repeat offenders more harshly, and then provides examples of the practice from a number of jurisdictions including England and Wales, Canada, and the United States. Particular attention is paid to the views of two important groups: convicted offenders and the general public. If offenders believe that the recidivist sentencing premium is unjustified, they are less likely to accept the legitimacy of the justice system. As for members of the public, it is important to know whether this key element of the sentencing process is consistent with community views.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199283897
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Series: Clarendon Studies in Criminology Series
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Julian Roberts is Professor of Criminology at the University of Oxford and has been conducting research in the area of sentencing since 1983. In the 1980s he worked for a Royal Commission on Sentencing and he has been teaching sentencing to students, criminal justice professionals and judges ever since. Roberts' other principal area of research is public attitudes to criminal justice, including sentencing. He is the Editor of the European Journal of Criminology and Associate Editor of the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

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