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Comparative Review Of Indeterminate And Determinate Sentences

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Everyday people who commit crimes await their sentencing. Will they have a short sentence? Will they be eligible for parole? There are several factors that determine whether a person will be given an indeterminate or determinate sentence. Indeterminate sentencing consists of a range of years that could be served. Determinate sentencing is when the offender is given fixed periods of incarceration and these periods have no changes while the time is served. Both of these sentences have factors which differentiate them.

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When an offender is given indeterminate sentencing, they are given a minimum and a maximum number of years they could be serving. Yet there are several factors that could change both the minimum and maximum years; offender behavior and work ethic. Once the offender is given indeterminate sentencing the judge gives the department of corrections complete custody of them. Therefore, the department of corrections can determine if the offender can be released early depending on whether they believe the offender is able to go back into society. When the minimum years have been served by the offender, he can become eligible for parole which is determined by the parole board and not the judge.

In comparison, determinate sentencing gives the offender a period that must be served and can be released once they have completed their time. Some states if the inmate is willing to work in the prison, be involved in educational and therapeutic programs, and participates in other prosocial programs; they could be granted “good time”.

This means the good time earned is taken off their total sentence and can be released early. There are also two variants to the determinate sentence, determinate presumptive sentence and determinate discretionary sentence. The determinate presumptive sentence sets a specific time that must be served by the inmate unless there are aggravating or mitigating circumstances. Thus, a judge can shorten or lengthen the sentence within limits and with written justification. Determinate discretionary sentence sets a range of time the offender must serve and cannot be changed. Yet, the judge can determine a set time that must be served if it falls within the set range that has been determined by legislative bodies.

These two types of sentencing seem to be similar, but they are not. Indeterminate sentencing focuses on giving the inmate a chance to rehabilitate and eventually go back into society, if the parole board sees fit. In the three different types of determinate sentencing the inmate could be released early or have a longer sentence. But unlike indeterminate, any changes that could be made must be done by the judge and with written justification.

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