What effective alternatives can creative sentencing provide?What effective alternatives can creative sentencing provide?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Effectiveness is pretty open to interpretation. But I couldn't let this post pass without some warnings about creative sentencing.

Creative sentencing may be a good idea on paper, but it can lead to disasterous, unfair results for defendants who sometimes face judges with power-issues and agendas.

I encourage you to listen to the story "Very Tough Love" on the NPR program "This American Life.  Georgia Judge Amanda Williams has some very interersting ways of "interpreting" the law. For example, "for violating drug court rules" Williams imposes what she calls "indefinite sentences," where defendants are not told when they will be released.

That's creative, all right. And scary. And legal.







pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The sorts of effective alternatives that creative sentencing can provide will surely differ depending on the nature of the crime in question.  For drug offenses, the sorts of alternatives that are being used by drug courts in some states seem to be effective.

As the economist.com link below shows us, drug courts can give sentences that seem to be effective.  These sentences include the usual things such as drug testing and rehab.  However, they also include more creative sentences such as the one discussed where the teenage boy was ordered by the judge to care for an electronic baby doll to educate him about the possible consequnces of sexual activity.

These sorts of alternatives have to this point been effective in lowering recidivism rates among "graduates" of the drug courts.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I thick creative sentencing can serve two purposes. It can help people be more productive, by allowing them to continue to work while serving out their sentence. A work release, so to speak. The other purpose is to allow for unusual circumstances, such as self defense or the wrong place wrong time mistake.