The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are rules that set out a uniform sentencing policy for convicted felons in the United States. The Guidelines are the product of the United States Sentencing Commission and are part of an overall federal sentencing reform package that took effect in the mid-1960s Though the Federal Sentencing Guidelines were styled as mandatory, the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in United States v. Booker found that the Guidelines violated the Sixth Amendments right to trial by jury. After the Booker and other Supreme Court cases, such as Blakely v. Washington (2004), guidelines are now advisory only, on both the federal and the state levels. Out of the four sentencing philosophies crates, rehabilitation and retribution, in my opinion, are the two more satisfactory justifications for punishment. In the following essay I will be analyzing which can serve as a more useful guide for those who sentence in the criminal justice system and answer the question: Should the criminal justice system focus more on rehabilitation than retribution?
The criminal justice system comprises many distinct stages, including arrest, prosecution, trial, sentencing, and punishment (quite often in the form of imprisonment). As will become clear, it is in the last two of these many stages that the debate over rehabilitation and retribution is of special significance.
Rehabilitation is the idea of changing criminal offenders’ habits, their outlook and possibly even personality, so as to make them less inclined to commit crimes in the future. It seeks to prevent a person from reoffending by taking away the desire to offend. This is very different from the idea of deterrence which is the idea of making him afraid to offend, though he may still desire to, and the idea of incapacitation which is the idea of taking away his physical power to offend, though he may still desire to and be unafraid to.
The retributive idea is that punishment should be determined by the...