What sentencing choices exist in today's criminal justice system?
There are a number of sentencing choices in today’s criminal justice system. Within each of these choices, of course, there is a broad continuum of choices. Sentencing statutes typically limit the degree of choice that judges have in a given type of case.
The main sentencing choices are community service, fines, restitution, probation, and incarceration. In some states, there is also the choice of the death penalty for a few of the most horrific crimes. Within any of these choices (with the exception of the death penalty, of course) there are more severe and less severe options. A judge might be able to choose to give someone anywhere from 5 years to 10 years when they are convicted of a given crime. These are choices as well. Finally, it is not necessary to choose only one of these types of sentence (again, the death penalty is different). A judge might impose fines, prison time, and then probation on a defendant.
Thus, community service, fines, restitution, prison time, and (in some cases) death, are the main choices for sentencing in today’s criminal justice system.