By Mark Sweet, ESQ
When a judge is trying to figure out what the appropriate sentence for an offender is, they have many considerations. Judges will consider the seriousness of the crime (is it a drug offense or attempted murder), previous felony record (is this the 18th 7-11 they have robbed), and information about the criminal (age, education, etc.). However, judges rarely consider the financial impact of their decisions.
Judge's Should Not Be Able to Consider Financial Ramifications
Many will argue that a judge should not consider the financial ramifications of their decision because the only concern should be that justice was served. Furthermore, each case should be handled differently considering the factors that are involved and not just “averaged.” How can a judge look in a victim’s eyes and say that justice was served if the judge just chose the cheapest option and let the criminal out on parole?
Judge's Should Be Able to Consider Financial Ramifications
On the other hand, prison costs continue to spiral out of control. Those in favor of providing the financial information to judges argue that it would help give a judge another piece of information during sentencing. If the cost of sending someone to prison is 5x higher (as it usually is) than an equally effective strict parole, then why not pick the cheaper, but equally effective option? The information provided to the judge includes average recidivism rates, expected time served and offender risk assessments.
See for yourself, this sentencing guideline is available to all. The website is https://www.courts.mo.gov/rs/ (an example of a MO charge code is 14010 for Burglary in the 1st degree)
What do you think, should judges be allowed to factor in the costs of sending someone to prison? Let us know what you think.
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