Many theorists have continued to question the effectiveness of the 1984Sentencing Reform Act, including myself. Since its inception, no marked change has been obtained in the criminal judicial system other than what has been documented in many cases as harsh and inflexible systems. The lengthy judicial systems created by the commission negatively impacts prisoners, indication the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 was unfair. Despite having established a sentencing commission to oversee what should be a fair trial and sentencing process, the inflexible judicial systems continues to discriminate some if not many alleged offenders. The commission continues to adopt its lengthy sentencing measures which tend to discriminate offenders with any criminal record. The law should be accommodative and it should change with time in order to reflect the current situations (Von Hirsch, 1976). The inflexibility of the sentencing procedure makes the American judicial system an intolerable system considering its long history which professes pure devotion to the rule of law. The criminal judicial system also disappoints the congress whose main objective of the reform Act was to promote honesty and reduce sentencing disparity in the judicial system.
In my opinion, the transfer of power from the judges to the commission served no purpose since same judicial trends continued to be exercised in our court rooms. The transfer was therefore a mere declaration of words which does not change anything unless practically executed. Although the intended purpose of the commission was straight and just, it fails to accomplish its purpose due to the lengthy guidelines in the judicial system (Frankel, 1973).
Whenever I observe sentencing disparities, I relate it back to 1988 when the judges revolted against the Sentencing Reform Act terming it as unconstitutional. Since its inception the judicial system has continued to be reluctant to implement the commission’s guidelines, since to them it threatens their professional capacity. In my opinion, the failure of the 1984 sentencing reform Act is brought about by the unwillingness of the judges and other judicial personnel. Majority of law scholars and famous judges still continues to advocate for reconsideration of the Act arguing that judicial discretion in sentencing still remains the most efficient system technique. Their continued support of capital punishment explains their inefficiency to administer a justifiable rule of law to its citizens (United States Sentencing Commission, 2009). I also fail to understand how effective the sentencing decision is to the prisoners and how the system deters them from committing crimes. In my opinion, the sentencing method and procedure does not matter most, but whether it is effectively playing its role in adjusting criminal’s behavior is what matters. The main purpose of the judicial sentencing is to stop crimes and deter those intending to commit similar crimes in future. And I am of the opinion that even after the 1984 sentencing reform Act, the United States judicial system has not effectively played its duty well. The crime rate continues to raise, a good sign of how criminals are not afraid of the judicial system (Gruner, 2004).
I feel that mandatory sentencing which is encouraged in the sentencing reform Act does not work effectively in the criminal deterrence process. This is because it makes criminals to be aware of what to expect in court for any crime they commit. They can therefore evaluate their personal benefits from the crime and the consequent sentencing and depending on the outcomes; they may decide to carry on with their criminal acts. The predetermined sentences are then not effective when it comes to crime stoppage and deterrence. But, if sentencing process was to be done on the judge’s discretion, criminals would fear severe punishment which may be imposed on them. The judges could also use their sentencing discretion to ensure no repetition of the crime within the society (Pease, 1987). They may do this by having different sentences on similar crimes, a move which would frighten those intending to commit similar crimes in future.
In my opinion, avoiding mandatory sentencing which follows stipulated guidelines of the law would enable judges, prosecutors, defendant lawyers and other legal advisers to exercise their skills and experiences in enforcing justice. The judges can also be able to use their own personal experiences on certain cases to come up with an effective sentencing of the offenders (Banks & Banks, 2002). They may also use such knowledge to regulate the sentence term as they may deem important. The defendant lawyers may also effectively use his or her legal knowledge to convince the judge to re-think on his or her sentencing decision. The sentencing reform Act of 1984 therefore should be reconsidered as it fails to meet the actual purpose of sentencing which is stopping and deterring crime (Roberts & Colet, 1999).
I do in some ways appreciate the role of the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act especially in the elimination of the parole system in the judicial system which had earlier dominated the field. Although the reform did not fully attain its intended purpose, I agree that it has played a significant role in eliminating disparities in the sentencing process (Nagel, 1990). The reform barred the judicial discretions in sentencing system which was previously characterized with much bias. Also, the Act abolished the parole system which triggered the release of criminals even before serving their sentence. The Sentencing Reform Act did offer a real-time sentencing system to the criminals which, one may argue serves the public well.
It also addressed the issues of unwarranted sentencing disparity through the creation of a commission which instructs and gives guidelines to the federal judges (Stith & Jose, 1998). Since the reform, the prisoner gets to serve the actual term imposed on him or her by the judge. The commission’s guidelines advocate neutrality in sentencing where the offenders will sufficiently serve their sentence regardless of race, color, sex, national origin and socioeconomic status. All this adjustments in the judicial systems are attributable to the 1984 sentencing reforms Act. It is therefore appropriate to give the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act credit where has been earned, but transmogrified when it stands in the way of justice.