Criminological Relationships between Theory and Policy
American Intercontinental University
This paper will discuss three policies within the criminological field and the theories that might have influenced them. The three policies and two theories that will be discussed in this paper are the death penalty, three strikes laws and expunging of records, the classical school of criminology and the labeling theory. This paper will discuss rulings by the Supreme Court concerning the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” laws and the death penalty policies. It will review the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the ...view middle of the document...
“State legislatures enacting three strikes laws made a deliberate policy choice that individuals who have repeatedly engaged in serious or violent criminal behavior, and whose conduct has not been deterred by more conventional punishment approaches, must be isolated from society to protect the public safety” (Ewing v. California, 2003).
Opponents of this law will argue that it has led to extremely high imprisonment numbers; it will back-up the courts, take sentencing discretion away from judges and it does not uphold the constitutional rights of the Eighth Amendment. Supporters of this law believe that longer sentences would decrease crime in two ways: by taking these repeat felons out of society for longer periods thereby stopping them from committing more crimes and by instilling the fear of very lengthy sentences in the hope of deterring new crimes.
The Death Penalty
The death penalty is an ordered sentence of putting one to death for committing murder or some other capital crime. There are thirty-four states in the United States that enforce the death penalty and seventeen states that have abolished the death penalty. There are 3,251 inmates on death row in United States prisons in 2011(Death Penalty Information Center, 2011). The death penalty has been a controversial topic of great debate for American citizens for many years. There been much debate over whether a death sentence violates the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Eighth Amendment states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted” (Eighth Amendment, pp. 1467). The Fourteenth Amendment states” No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Fourteenth Amendment, pp.1671).
Death Penalty Rulings
There been much debate over whether a death sentence violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on ‘cruel and unusual punishment. A ruling handed down by the Supreme Court in the case of Furman v, Georgia in 1972 imposed a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty, which the Court said was being applied in an arbitrary and inconsistent manner. .Imposition and carrying out of death penalty in these cases held to constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (FURMAN v. GEORGIA, 408 U.S. 238, 1972).
This ruling did not exist for very long because the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 once the states addressed the Supreme Court’s concerns (Smith, P. (2011),). The punishment of death for the crime of murder does not, under all circumstances, violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 1976).