Values and law

Subject: Sociology
Type: Informative Essay
Pages: 12
Word count: 3088
Topics: Crime, Ethics, Feminism, Human Trafficking

Accordingly, for a better society, life sentences should be made mandatory for all those convicted of criminal offenses against the person. Life imprisonment is also referred to as lifelong incarceration or the life sentence. In life imprisonment, the convicted individuals are to remain imprisoned for the unlimited time. Consequently, such persons would remain in prison for their entire life or until released conditionally or paroled. There are various crimes in which the offender could receive life imprisonment. They include murder, blasphemy, terrorism, espionage, rape, kidnapping, child abuse, treason, drug dealing, human trafficking, severe fraud cases, aggravated criminal damage especially in English law, and serious cases of arson, burglary among others. If a person is sentenced to life, he or she may spend the entire life in prison without parole. Depending on the nature of the judgment, some may be eligible to apply for parole.

Fundamentally, the law is founded, derived and conceived from values. The values inform and underpin a fair and rational expectation of how power should be exercised, organised and controlled in both public and private level. Such values are expressed in the formal law, behaviour, societal expectations, and actions. The law and values are linked in that whether there is the formal legal expression or not; the societies have the accurate conception of what is right. Human values seek to reject unfairness and insist on dignity, respect, and equality. Consequently, values of the society are the foundations of law and are predominantly relevant to public law. While different individuals come from different parts of the world, they have numerous common principles and values that unite them. To protect these values and thus preserve enduring communities, various offenses ought to be severely punishable by law to ensure dignity, respect, and equality in the society.

For many of the serious offenses especially the ones touching on essential society values, the offender mostly receives mandatory life imprisonment. Other than serious crimes such as rape or robbery, various criminals who may be risky to members of the community should be sentenced to life imprisonment. If the number of cases punishable by life imprisonment is expanded to include all those convicted of criminal offenses against others, criminal offenses may reduce. Some of the petty offenses such as shoplifting, siphoning petrol from automobile, cashing stolen cheque among others offenses have attracted life imprisonment without parole. Although such sentences may be incomprehensible, they are effective in that they deter potential offenders from interference with the order in the community. At the same time, when the information spread either through media or other channels concerning the severity of the punishment given compared to the offense committed, many individuals may desist from committing the crime.

The compromise can be applied when it comes to eligibility for parole. Individuals eligible for parole are those that may be released before completing their life imprisonment. However, such individuals would require the judge to set fixed period in which they can apply for parole. Such period is referred to as the “minimum term.” For individuals whose crime is exceptional, grievous and cannot be restored according to the laws they may be subjected to life imprisonment without parole through the principle “whole life order.” A prisoner, who manages to serve their minimum term and will have changed such that they are acceptable to the community, may be eligible for parole. Such individuals should be subjected to parole board before release. Prisoners who fail to meet the requirements of the board may be returned to prison for an unlimited period. Although minimum time is agreeable or may vary depending on the nature of the offense or other factors, it should be longer enough to ensure that the prisoner is fully liberated and restored.

Laws governing mandatory sentencing always target offenses related to moral vices. Such offenses include the offenses that threaten a person’s livelihood including sex abuse, drugs abuse or drug dealing among others. The idea is that some of the crimes are so atrocious that the offender cannot be accepted the back into the society without sufficient retribution. Some crimes are regarded as severe and require that the convicted offender be indefinitely removed from the society by being sentenced to life. Sometimes the offenders are subjected to capital punishment. Life imprisonment is meant to separate such offenders from the community. It is anticipated that the nature of the crime under which the individuals are convicted or the frequency of damage surpasses the subjective view or opinion of a judge. Although remedying the wrongdoings during the process of passing judgment stemming from judicial discretion should target specific crimes, some moral vices are so destructing to the community that they should carry life sentencing. The judgment given should not be based on whether an offense is petty or heinous. That way, the society, guided by innate values will be fair and balanced.

Consequently, creating stricter and severer sentencing procedures would eventually promote consistency as well as fairness in the entire judicial system. In various jurisdictions, sentencing has profoundly been influenced by judicial habits. However, judgment should reflect the nature of the crime and the potential consequences of the offense to the community. Correspondingly, mandatory sentences like life imprisonment should serve as a way of deterrence for impending criminals as well as repeat offenders to avoid such rimes in future. Besides, the reason for mandatory sentencing regarding deterrence is to considerably raise the extent of the potential consequence of the offense. The reason is that the criminals may avoid crime on bases that they will face severe sentences when they are apprehended. Tightening sentences on all crimes against the other person will serve as a way of deterrence as well as building on a strong crime response policy.

Mandatory life sentencing is significant because it would seek to ensure fairness among all the offenders who commit the crime. As such, judicial discretion as for the imperative consideration during life sentencing should be eliminated in the attempt to maintain fairness, equity, and justice in sentencing. Criminal activities normally are driven by the inner consideration that there are potential benefits as well as the potential consequences of unlawful and illegitimate behaviour. Life sentencing for potential criminals is likely to instil the idea that potential consequence of the offense outweighs the potential benefits of the committed crime. There is also the argument that life imprisonment would increase public safety. The reason is societal moral code would guide that conviction as opposed to judicial discretion. Correspondingly, life imprisonment is longer and thus when it is made mandatory minimum sentences for various crimes, offenders that are injurious to the society may be incapacitated for extended periods thus keeping them off the community and streets for long. Similarly, the trial advantages leveraged against the respondent significantly increases the chance that they will ultimately cooperate.

Perpetrators facing life incarcerations are likely to provide additional information about their companions who were also involved in illicit activities. There is the argument that deterring crime is not related to the severity of the punishment but the certainty of the offense. There is the unique connection between fear of committing the offense and the nature of retribution given. In retributive justice, the argument is that punishment and threats can deter crime or change behaviour. Consequently, human deeds carry inescapable consequences. Retributive justice considers punishment, if equivalent, to be the morally acceptable way of responding to wrongdoing. There is also the argument that, if the focus is on retributive justice through severe sentences like life imprisonment, punishing certain criminal elements may not deter more illegal activities from happening. However, there is also the argument that retribution justice through life imprisonment is an inescapable morally acceptable strategy of ensuring justice. Offering punishment becomes not only necessary but morally appropriate so that the standards objectives of justice are satisfied.

Ordinarily, criminal activities are unlawful practices that are punishable by an authority or a state. Such transgressions or criminal offenses are harmful acts that are not only injurious to individuals but also to society, community or the entire state. They are thus generally referred to as “public wrongs” prohibited and punishable by law. The idea that criminal acts such as rape, murder, theft among others are to be forbidden exists throughout the world. Acts that precisely constitute criminal offense are defined by the criminal law of various jurisdiction or countries. While catalogue of crimes referred to as criminal code may exist in various jurisdictions, in common laws of different countries, inclusive statute regarding ruling does not exist. Irrespective of the jurisdiction, liberty of committing criminal activity is severely restricted. If an individual is found guilty, they are sentenced to a specific form of reparations as defined by the laws of the state. Such reparation includes community sentence, which depends on the type of the offense, they may also be imprisoned for a specific period or life imprisonment. In some jurisdictions, the offenders may be executed depending on the nature of the criminal offense that has been conducted. Usually, for one to be punished, the crime has to be specified either to have been committed (actus reus) or intended to commit criminal activity (mens rea).

Although there are numerous categories of criminal activities, only certain specific crimes attract life imprisonment. Some of the criminal activities could be injurious to the victims but may not attack life imprisonment. Similarly, laws give the judges the freedom to exercise judicial discretion while deciding and pronouncing the judgment. Judicial discretion requires that the judge should consider the seriousness of the case before them before judgment. Consequently, the judge ought to consider the seriousness and the weightiness of the transgression or misdemeanour to justify the imposition of the judgment given. As such, the nature of the offense and hence the intensity of the judgment given is left to the judge to decide. If the judgment continues to rely on the ability of the judge to provide guidance on such serious issues, the value of the judgment and hence reliability may be undermined. The reason is that some of the crime though petty may require the extensive assessment to verify their overall effect to the victim. To avoid subjectivity and enhance objectivity while pronouncing judgment, life sentences should be made mandatory for all those convicted of criminal offenses against a person. This way, there will be uniformity while making ruling while the law will preserve the values from which it is constituted.

Consequentialism theory constitutes one of the normative ethical theories. According to the theory, consequences of individual conduct are the basis for the judgment about whether certain aspects of a certain conduct are right or wrong. Accordingly, consequentialism also referred to as teleological ethics entails the approach to ethics which maintains that the moral value of an act is dependent on the consequence or outcome of the law. Accordingly, according to consequentialist perspective, an act or an omission is morally accurate if it can produce positive result or consequences. Essentially, the outcome of an action justifies the means or the processes that were initially involved in constituting or establishing the outcome. The objective of an act is morally significant irrespective of the process of achieving such acts. From consequentialism arise utilitarianism that maintains that an action is accepted as right if it eventually leads to happiness of the highest number of individuals.

From this theory, it can be argued that the most significant issues while judging the moral value of an action is the outcome and not the details. Therefore, going back to the issue of life imprisonment for individual who commit offenses against others, the most significant thing will be the consequences and the benefits that life imprisonment may have to the community other than the details of which the sentence is given. Life imprisonment will give the offenders an opportunity to look into their life more intensively, realize their mistakes and possibly change for good such that in the case of an opportunity like parole will come up; they will be able to become useful members of the community. If such individuals were given short sentences, some might resolve to conduct the same mistakes again. Simultaneously, the alternative punishment which may entail taking the life of an offender may not constitute real justice or restorative justice to the individual. The community or the individuals who suffered from the committed crime may directly or indirectly benefit by being safe from the potential aggressor. The consequential benefits of the community or individuals who suffer crime are useful compared to the suffering of a single offender. For instance, individuals who take drugs may benefit indirectly when a drug trafficker has been convicted of life imprisonment. By the time the wrongdoers are released through parole, they are too old in that they are not capable of committing such a grievous or petty crime again. Life imprisonment serves as the way of convincing the lawbreaker that illegitimate behaviour has serious consequences and that they should desist from such behaviour.

Care ethics denotes that there is the fundamental moral significance of various essential elements regarding the relationships as well as dependencies in entire human life. Care receivers and care givers are intertwined in a system of social relations that seek to promote the rights of all members of the community. Although the concept is based on the practice of virtue, it builds on care and motivation to for all the individuals who are needy and vulnerable. Care givers are inspired by the memories of being cared while the care receivers benefit from the fact that they are significant members of the community that are entitled to comprehensive care. While deontological and consequentialist ethical theorist underscores impartiality and universal standards, ethics of care give emphasis to the significance of response to other individual’s needs. The main focus in this theory is the validation of the justice perspective and endeavours to respond to take care of other individuals who are in need. Individuals who may be particularly vulnerable according to one’s discretion deserve extra consideration depending on their vulnerability.

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From this theory of ethics, it is clear that there is need to care for other individuals depending on their vulnerabilities. Previously, it was established that law is founded, derived and conceived from values. The values are uniform and underpin a fair and rational expectation of how power should be exercised, organised and controlled by both public and private level. The care ethics theory well supports the idea that life sentences should be made mandatory for all those convicted of criminal offenses against the person. The reason is that it offers an opportunity to protect the individuals who are vulnerable from further harm by physically eliminating the immediate threat that faced them. Besides, there is the necessary relationship between all members of the community. The Strong bond that links them is significant and valuable. Accordingly, any individuals trying to isolate or drive a wedge in this link should be isolated. Although some of the offenses may be petty by definition, they may be fatal and destructive to the victim thus there should be universality in the process of delivering justice to all criminal offenses. According to the theory of care ethics, it is necessary to respond to background details of all the situations at hand to promote and safeguard the definite as well as particular interests of all the parties involved. Hence, considering the rights and the welfare of the offender without regarding the rights of the victim may not entail comprehensive care to all the parties involved.

Besides, the aspects of ensuring that a life sentence is mandatory for all those convicted of criminal offenses against the person is the significant way of taking care of offenders by offering restoration. Offenders who have been convicted of life imprisonment with or without parole have the opportunity to be restored their normal life because prisons are designed to be both retributive and restorative. While the society seeks to take care of the victim through offering justice through law, it also takes care of the offender by putting in measures to restore them to a level in which they will be acceptable to the community. Such care entails granting them life imprisonment mostly with parole such that they will be restored and join the community as useful individuals. Although care ethics is criticised for being a type of slave morality, with serious weaknesses including parochialism, essentialism, and ambiguity, it is the foundation of law because it is based on the values. Extending life imprisonment to all the offenders who are convicted of criminal offenses against the person is appropriate. The reason is because it amount to suppression the transgressions and thus is an affirmation of societal values. Care of ethics was and is still originally regarded as most suitable to the intimate and private spheres of life.

Feminism is a theory seeking economic, political and social equality for individuals both sexes. Consequently, the idea is meant to establish equal profession, education, social and other opportunities for women such that they are equal to those of men. Feminist pursues justice for women to ensure that women have equal rights as well as the same level of opportunities as men. Essentially, individuals whose rights are suppressed may be disadvantaged because of lack of equality of opportunity. This section finds out the feminist view to criminal law, with specific emphasis on the huge success that the feminist projects in international and domestic and transnational criminal law. There is extensive contact between criminal law and feminism. Various transgressions against women such as domestic violence, rape, human trafficking and other offenses against women constitute crimes punishable by life imprisonment. The primary intention of feminism is to ensure that comprehensive care, equal rights, and opportunities are granted to women.

Domestic violence, rape, human trafficking among other injustices that may happen to women is geared toward engendered and consequently devaluing women. Therefore, individuals exposing women to such treatment have no place in the community and would require being isolated possibly indefinitely through life imprisonment. While some offenses to women may be defined as petty or insignificant, they amount to both psychological and physical torture that that may degrade and also have destructive consequences to women. Feminist and the community fundamentally regard equal rights to women as inherent human strength. Consequently, such values should not only be upheld by the law but should be taught and expected of men and women. The underlying principle in law is safeguarding rights of all individuals irrespective of whether they are men or women.

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