Do you agree with creative sentencing?Do you agree with creative sentencing?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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I think I fell in love with creative sentencing a very long time ago when I first watched The Parent Trap with Haley Mills.  I'll never forget when that fuddy-duddy old camp director said, "Let the punishment fit the crime!" and proceeded to make the two fighting girls stay in an isolated cabin together for the rest of the summer.  (Of course, they found out they were really identical twins and became good friends, but that's beside the point.)

In regards to criminal behavior, there are certainly some "lesser" crimes (such as shoplifting) where I think creative sentencing could be a definite plus.  However, there are also times when the judge should follow the mandates and punishments that are expected and even dictated by law.

I realize that this discussion is in "Law" instead of "Parenting" or "Teaching."  I have to admit, though, my favorite quote from above is as follows:  "Of course I do.  I am a parent and a teacher.  I delver creative sentencing daily."  Ha!  Ditto!

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I like the flexibility that creative sentencing gives judges and the way that it represents an understanding that traditional custodial sentences may not actually work in every case. So, as in #2, I am definitely not against custodial sentencing. My concerns are that it could be used in a way that might not actually be beneficial in certain contexts. However, overall, I think creative sentencing offers much more hope and chance of rehabilitation than traditional sentencing does.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I think the previous post makes a great point. Anyone who is an educator has (I personally hope) been involved in creating and doling out creative "sentencing." Rick Wormeli's book "Fair Isn't Always Equal" speaks to that issue in terms of assignments and grading, but it works the same with discipline. The exact same identical punishment is seldom appropriate for a group of individuals who have all committed the same crime because the circumstances surrounding each one of the crimes and convicts will be unique. The most appropriate way to reprimand and rehabilitate each of the criminals will not be the same treatment for all. Creative sentencing allows for recognition of differences and for differentiation in response to them.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Of course I do.  I am a parent and a teacher.  I delver creative sentencing daily.  The punishment should fit the crime, and in most cases, the individual situations require a difference in the type of punishment delivered.  The circumstances include, but are not limited to, if the guilty person is a first-time offender, what the motives were (did the under-age driver jump in the car for a joy ride or to get his father who couldn't drive because he had a heart attack to the hospital), and what the results of the crime were (was anyone hurt, intentionally or otherwise).  There is much to consider when passing judgement, and for that I am forever in awe of the justice system and the judges who carefully weigh all the evidence before, together with the law, considers how and how much to punish the guilty.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Not all crimes are the same, so why should the sentence be? As the saying goes, the punishment should fit the crime. Some nonviolent crimes deserve more creative sentencing. There should also be some compassion and consideration of cicumstances. At the very least, we hardly have the funding to build more prisons.
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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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I think creative sentencing can be a good thing under certain circumstances. As the examples above talk about, being sentenced to something more befitting for the crime and the criminal can have a greater impact than traditional sentencing. However, the purpose of traditional sentencing is to have some form of standardization in the law. Criminals are punished equally and fairly for their crimes. In lesser crimes, like shoplifting or underage drinking, I think creative sentencing can be very effective, but with greater crimes, I think traditional sentencing is important. Judges shouldn't have the power to decide who gets what punishment with no standardization at all. It wouldn't be fair or impartial for one person to get five years in jail while another gets community service.
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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I agree with the concept of it. I like that our system still allows judges some flexibility in sentencing that allows them to respond to some legal situations without the automatic need for prison. Non-violent offenders can then be dealt with in ways that perhaps more accurately fit the crime. I remember in my town, a judge sentenced an 18 year old that had vandalized some homes to repainting over all graffiti in a ten block area. Now that wouldn't be in most sentencing guidelines, but it seems closer to "justice" in the literal sense.
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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The old expression is that the punishment should fit the crime. Fines, probation, and jail time are not always appropriate punishments; the defendant, the victim, and the situation itself may require some creativity. A classic example of creative sentencing is when Michael Vick was required to address groups of young people about the wrong he had done. In some jurisdictions, persons who have been convicted of driving under the influence are required to have a license plate that indicates the same. The purpose of sentencing is not only to punish but also to deter future misconduct. If a judge may do that by creative sentencing, then I say go for it.

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Creative sentencing is the method of bestowing punishment upon a criminal. The difference between creative and traditional sentencing is that during creative sentencing, instead of following the mandates and expected punishments dictated by law, the judge will have free license to create a consequence that is most befitting to the crime committed.

You can see a lot of creative sentencing particularly during trials involving teenagers who shoplift, drink alcohol, or commit crimes of that nature. These offenders need direction and specific consequences more so than the general mandates of every common trial.

Hence, judges impose sentences such as, for example, to wear a sign saying "I shoplift" for the offender to wear outside a store. Another example of creative sentencing is to order the offender to fix the offense directly by washing walls (in the case of graffiti and vandalism), or to pay back for stolen items by working at the same store where the offense was committed, for free.

The good thing about creative sentencing is that it is more relevant to the crime committed, and shows a genuine concern from the judge's part, as the judges go out of their way to ensure that the offender learns about true consequences.

A judge that is careless would just look up a sentence in a book and apply it to a case. Yet, creative sentencing, shows that the justice system is looking after the safety and security of people by making offenders have a taste of their own bad decisions.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I agree with creative sentencing, depending on when it is used and what sort of creative sentences are handed down.  So, in theory, I agree with it, but there may well be individual cases in which I would disagree with the sentence that is given.

I believe that creative sentencing can be more likely than traditional sentences to lead to actual rehabilitation of convicts.  I think that sentences like those handed down by drug courts can be more likely to help convicts than putting them in prison will.  However, it would be much more difficult to find creative sentences that would be appropriate for crimes that are more violent or more damaging to society.

So, in theory, I certainly agree with creative sentencing.

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