Crime and Punishment

There are four main factors that are considered while a judge is sentencing someone who’s about to go to jail. There’s retribution (punishing the person for doing something wrong), rehabilitation (reforming the offender to prevent later offenses), safety (keeping threats out of the community) and deterrence (making sure that they don’t break the law in the future).

Some people believe that a long prison sentence checks all these boxes.  They say that it gives prisoners time to think about what they’ve done wrong which later on -when they get out of prison -motivates them to stay on the right path. On the other hand, research shows that long prison sentences don’t really work on most cases. A 2009 study found that in the US, after three years in prison, 67% of the prisoners were rearrested for a new offence, 46.9% were reconvicted for a new crime, and 25.4% were resentenced to prison.

Experts say that changes in severity have little effect on deterrence because offenders do not expect to get caught even though they’ve already been caught once. Furthermore, many crimes occur when the person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Others happen with the “heat of passion” when a person is being controlled by an extreme emotion. In those kind of situations offenders don’t usually consider sentencing guidelines. They are aware that what they’re doing is illegal, but at that moment their desperation is the most important thing. Moreover, the majority of offenders who have been interviewed report that they did not know what potential sentence they were facing. Therefore, increasing the severeness of the punishment cannot have any effect if potential offenders are not aware of the change.Which means the threat of a long prison sentence does not deter people from a criminal lifestyle.

What I suggest is rehabilitation. It is believed that criminal deviance is learned and is a result of one’s upbringing, financial status, or the lack of positive role models. So if one had learned these bad traits earlier in life, they could also be taught good traits if given the opportunity and open prisons are the perfect places to prevent previous offenders from convicting crimes again. A criminology professor at the University of Oslo says that open prisons are built on prisoner trust and the prisoners are expected to be responsible. You can call it freedom, but the inmates still have sentences to serve.

 Norway has an average prison sentence length of eight months; however, when we take a look at their crime rate research shows ,in the world, it has the lowest rates of recidivism because all prisons in Norway offer education, drug treatment, mental health and training programs. After release, in Norway, offenders are helped in order to be reintegrated into society. Ex-convicts can access active labour market programmes for finding a job and they are supplied with a wide range of social support services. These Norwegian prison sentences fit the needs of the offenders and help lead to rehabilitation, something that isn’t always seen in long prison sentences.


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