Armed robbery is the process through which a person takes possession of another person’s property by using violence means, which may result in injury or harm to the victim. Armed robbery therefore, involves use of weapons that may cause death to the victim during the act of robbing a person of his or her property by force, an act that is illegal (United Nations Dept of Social Affairs, 2007).
In recent times, there has been an increase in the number of armed robberies across the country, which has resulted in a number of deaths from the victims of the vice. Because of this, the state and the public believe that the current laws are not effective for curbing the vice or deter would-be offenders from the committing the crime and hence the introduction of the new bill. The bill is in reflection of the number of social ills that have cropped up in the society due the effect of armed robberies in the society. Before the bill is pass into law, it should look into the equality, fairness and justice of the whole society while taking into account whether minority races or sections of the community will be target by the bill.
The main principles of justification of punishment should be retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, social protection and more recently the restoration of social harmony. However, the principles constitute the knowledge on what is the best response to the increased armed robbery rates. The public and the government do agree that the stiffer and longer sentences are the best way to solve the increase in armed robberies. Furthermore, there are different ways through which this punishment can take effect, although bill has not considered other factors, which will make the bill effective.
Many resources by the government and the society have been used to protect the society from the criminals, which has not been productive at all. In fact, the number of armed robberies cases has been increasing resulting in wastage of resources and at times, life. Though the bill looks into curtailing the number of these acts and effecting hefty punishments onto the offenders, a number of recommendations should be added to it to make the bill more productive than the past bills at the end of the day (American Law Institute, 1961).
I recommend that punishment should be distinguished from causing pain and suffering to the offender and the dependants but should only serve as a corrective tool. Therefore, although the offenders could face imprisonment, they may not arrive at rehabilitation into disciplined people but might get more aggravated and continue to commit more dangerous crimes. Therefore, because the notion of justice is not clear-cut, it embodies the fairness to all members of the society including the victim and the offender. Therefore, the bill should strike a balance between the two issues between these competing interests and not favor one side because of public opinion but represent all people.
The first thing to consider is why the society has resulted to armed robbery despite the stringent punishment in place. In the society, there are various disparities such as different societies acquiring different cultures and races; this has led to discrimination in terms of economic empowerment and thus they have resulted in armed robberies as a means of survival. So the bill should address the economic disparities that result in crime, instead of just throwing a blanket over the issue.
In addition the bill should as a result introduce other corrective measures that can be under taken to effectively and humanly correct the offenders. Such methods include parole. Under this method, a person who displaces good character and discipline during the sentence period is set free before the end of the sentence. Another method is house imprisonment, under this system; the offender does not get separated from his society but just gets confined within the limits of his house. These methods apart from treating the offenders humanly, they reduce the aggressive nature acquired by long serving offenders; moreover these methods have resulted in the reduction of prison population thus having a manageable population, which the corrective department can handle.
Suspend sentencing should also be put to consideration in the bill whereby the offenders have a time to think about their actions and also be allowed to adhere to the community standards because there is a standing threat of punishment should they fail to cooperate. Evidence from previous studies have shown that community punishments have reduced re-offending because the community has a definite way in which it can punish the offenders in a humane way (American Law Institute, 1961).
Besides, the bill should also include other measures that model the offenders into law abiding citizens hence; the bill should make it mandatory for the offenders to have access to professional counseling. By counseling the offenders can understand the repercussions of his behavior and the negative effect it has on the rest of the population. Vocational training and education for the offenders should as well be put into consideration because it will provide a source of income to the offenders once the prison releases them and consequently reduce the rate of repeat offenders.
Majority of the prisoners in the correction facilities spend their days eating, sleeping and doing very little work, this has resulted in them influencing each other into various degrees of crime resulting in offenders acquiring more violent and irrational characteristics. In this light, prisoners in prison should be put in seclusion according to the crimes they commit to prevent them from acquiring criminal tendencies. In addition to this, they are ought to have plenty of work to do to cut down on the idle time they spend discussing about non-productive issues.
I also recommend that the criminal justice system should have a sentencing discretion policy in its administration of justice. Implementation of this policy assumes that not all people who engage in armed robbery have the same status and at times sentencing them to long prison terms does more harm than good. Therefore, in cases such as the offender is the main dependent in the family or has medical or psychological issues; the justice system should be in a position to give a different sentence as compared to the one in which the offender is a normal adult man. By doing so, parenting offenders will be able to provide for their children by alternative sentencing systems because if this is not done, the children may grow up in the likes their parents. However, caution should be taken when the justice system passes sentences at its own discretion because it might be abused by some members of the system and therefore there should be a board to oversee this action.
The bill should also be cost-effective for the government and the taxpayer. Studies have shown that increasing the prison terms of offenders does not necessarily reduce crime but by increasing the prison time, it results in increased expenses to the government and the taxpayers for a cause that does not bring any long term relief in the rate of armed crimes. So the bill should consider the use of alternative punishment methods, which are cheaper and more cost-effective. This calls for the value for money approach whereby the benefit for increase in costs of running the correction facilities can be seen in the society (United Nations Dept of Social Affairs, 2007).
The bill should also seek stiffer penalties to people who have unauthorized weapons, which increase the likelihood of a person using the weapons to commit crimes. For that reason the government should provide an amnesty period whereby persons with illegal arms can hand them over to the authorities without facing prosecution for it. After that they should introduce a bill that puts stiffer penalties for people found with illegal weapons.
Therefore, by seeking to increase the prison term, the normal issues on the ground will not be addressed as new people will take up the vice and continue to rob the society. From data collected from the correction department, majority of the armed robbers are usually young people who are therefore very vulnerable. The bill should therefore ensure that there is a program that ensures less harm is done to them although in custody. Majority of these youth have alcohol, drug and mental problems and thus there should be program to cater for these problems through rehabilitation. The rehabilitation strategy should allow the judiciary to execute community sentences, which are in combination with punishments such as unpaid labor, curfews and exclusion, from participating in community events. It is important that the bill also passes the right level of punishment accompanied with supervision on the youth. The youth can also face subjection to community punishments, which have shown to reduce the rate of repeat offenders.
Furthermore, instead of imprisoning the offenders in cases in which the offenders are mothers with children or sick people, they can be subject to paying hefty fines, compensation to the victims and community orders. These community orders should include punitive as well as rehabilitative methods in them to achieve its objective at the end of the period (American Law Institute, 1961).
The reasons that I made the above recommendations concerning the bill is that in the community, strict laws should be put in place to punish the offender and stop them from committing more criminal activities. People who will commit further crimes should be subject to stiffer punishments such as long prison terms and hard labor but this should be done at discretion.
For that reason the bill should ensure that it protects the public by maintaining stringent security in the society as well as in the prison system. The bill should include punitive as well as rehabilitative measures, which will ensure that the offenders and others would-be offenders restrain from committing armed robberies. The correction facilities should not only be used as a place for punishments, but also as a place for rehabilitation and a changing zone for the offender to reconcile with the rest of the society after serving their sentence. The bill should also ensure that only the dangerous offenders are serving to long sentences and remain until the threat they posed to the society is over or put up well with the rest of the society.
Besides, the criminal justice system should have powers vested in them in the bill where, they can use alternative sentencing methods such as community sentences because it has shown to have resulted in the reduction of repeat offenders. Those who fail to perform their community orders can be sent to prison or more hard labor added to them. The prisons should also have a value for money policy where, the department delivers on its mandate hence; they should have modern systems that cater for current crimes such as the armed robberies and offer education, health care, and vocational training to the offenders. Because of the likelihood of convicts acquiring new criminal tendencies, they should be put in different facilities that cater for the same type of crime and so they are not expose to other forms of crime that they would get into once the court releases them.
Although these recommendations might seem to be softer options when compared to the armed robberies committed by the offenders, evidence has shown that these recommendations really work and reduces new armed robberies or re-offenders and resorted social harmony between the offenders, victims, and the whole community.
American Law Institute (1961). Model penal code: tentative draft. Turlock, CA: University of California.
United Nations Dept of Social Affairs (2007). International review of criminal policy. New York, NY: United Nations.