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Punishing Persistent OffendersExploring Community and Offender Perspectives$
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Julian V. Roberts

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199283897

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199283897.001.0001

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Reductivist Sentencing Perspectives and the Role of Previous Convictions

Reductivist Sentencing Perspectives and the Role of Previous Convictions

(p.29) 2 Reductivist Sentencing Perspectives and the Role of Previous Convictions
Punishing Persistent Offenders

Roberts Julian V

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the relevance of previous convictions for a number of criminal sentencing objectives and perspectives, including individual and general deterrence, incapacitation, and restorative justice. The focus is on sentencing purposes that attempt to reduce crime directly, by means of threats or detention, or indirectly through some other purpose such as restoration. At first glance, utilitarian theories — and in particular incapacitation — offer the most persuasive rationale for a recidivist sentencing premium. To the extent that an offender's criminal history is a good predictor of future offending, there will be some crime prevention benefit associated with imposing harsher sentences on recidivists. Upon closer examination, however, it is clear that individual deterrence rests on the dubious assumption that progressive increments of severity will deter offenders more effectively than a ‘flat rate’ approach, while incapacitation is a sentencing model applicable principally to the most serious offenders. However, all sentencing perspectives take an interest in the nature of the offender's criminal record.

Keywords:   previous convictions, deterrence, incapacitation, criminal sentencing, restorative justice, crime, recidivists, detention, recidivist sentencing premium, criminal record

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