Let’s say that there are two possible outcomes when sentencing a criminal. Either he receives a sentence that is not “fatal” (e.g. death penalty or some form of life in prison; actual or effective) or one that is. If he receives the more “lenient” sentence, he has the opportunity to show his rehabilitated side upon release – or he could choose to reoffend. However, the choice the incarcerated makes upon release is obviously not known until such time comes, so we have to either go for broke with sentencing, writing the individual off as lost, or anticipate possible recovery. I understand that this is a difficult decision for the courts to make.
However, the courts are not immune from the pressures of the populace. In areas of the world where judges are elected, the voting population ultimately has a direct influence on whether the judge will opt towards a hopeful sentence or a damning one. In this sense, the judge is ultimately handcuffed and the politics of the voters dictate the fate of criminals. Of course, I am excluding the proclivities of the judge, but what I wish to explore is the power of society’s will on the fate of rehabilitating criminals.