- Purpose of a victim impact statement
A victim impact statement is a report by which victims of crime provide information in the sentencing process. It contains written or oral information from victims on how the crime has affected them. It helps to outline the effect to which victims got injured on a monetary basis and acts as a means of maintaining probationary status. It serves the purpose of providing a medium through which victims of crimes express in writing the effect of the crime. The impact can be in the form of economic loss as well as physical and psychological impacts on life. Through a victim impact statement, a victim gets a chance to describe to the court or parole board the effects of the crime under consideration.
It presents information that would have otherwise been unavailable in court on the impacts of the crime to the victim. A victim impact statement can be added to the pre-sentence investigation report to provide information critical in determining whether to grant a parole and conditions that should be imposed (Santos, 2008). It is also beneficial in crimes of violence and increases victim’s satisfaction with the process of delivering sentences. However victim impact statements rarely affect judgments as in many cases judges make decisions before hearing the victim's side.
- Advantages and disadvantages of probation being administered in county level and on a state level
Probation allows convicts continued stay in the community under specified guidelines and restrictions. Probation also provides convicts an opportunity to spend with relatives, hold jobs and contribute to the community and at the same time protects the public as well as provides treatment to substance abuse and mental ill defendants (Abadinsky, 2009). Probation administered at the county level is easy to manage due to its small size and allows for closer interaction between the offender and the probation officer unlike in state level. However, it is disadvantageous in terms of safety as a result of fewer officers. County level also faces the financial constraint and fewer staff.
On the other hand, probation administered on a state level is advantageous in regard to greater funding sources which provide wider scale operation. The state also has more workforce thus can take care of more defendants than counties. Safety at the state level is also better than at the county level given more resources and effective accountability. The disadvantages in this setting occur due to the vast impersonal nature of state probation. Complexity in the state administered probation as a result of wider funding base and employees lead to bureaucracy and possibilities of probationers slipping through the system.
- What elements can affect granting of probation?
Granting of probation differs from one state to another due to varying criteria. A Court concern itself with justice, safety and an elusive perception in any sentencing. The nature of crime can be used to determine if probation can be granted. Probation guidelines differ from principles of criminal burden as such probation should focus on a crime. In determining whether an offender is fitting to live among the society several factors should be addressed. An offender’s background should be thoroughly investigated before deciding on his or her eligibility for probation. The investigation should determine the accused history of crimes, and if crimes exist, it should determine their seriousness. Information regarding the offender’s social life, employment and the impact of granting the probation in the community should also be considered.
Probation can also be decided on whether the accused is a repeat offender. Most first time offenders and those facing crimes that qualify as diplomatic can be considered. Violation upon release also affects granting of probation. If an offender fails to comply with court orders, a probation officer can refer that criminal back to court. For repeat violators, prison sentences can be preferred in lieu of probation. Health is another aspect of consideration that can affect granting of probation. This includes specialized probation in issues of mental illness among others.
- What are the four basic purposes of presentence investigation report?
Investigation before sentencing provides the basis for a presentence investigation report. A presentence investigation report describes the history as well as a character of an offender and should be written before the hearing. Assisting courts in making proper sentences is the main purpose of a presentence investigation report. It helps to decide for or against granting of probation, the conditions prescribed as well as the time period of the probation. It also serves as the basis on which probation supervision plan by providing information on defendants’ problems and opportunities existing in the society (Abadinsky, 2009). According to Abadinsky (2009), the report assists jail and prison staff to classify and understand new inmates.
The information provided through the presentence investigation report assists in planning for rehabilitation care and custody of inmates. This information provides focus and direction to jail and prison authorities for training control and management. Another purpose of the presentence investigation report is to equip parole authorities with the information necessary in planning and determination of conditions of supervision. Arguably, it contributes immensely in the sentencing process since judges’ use it in determining their sentences. The report is also essential to the individual's life in the event the defendant gets sentenced to serve in prison (Santos, 2008).
- What are the arguments in favor of probation being part of the judicial branch of the government? What are the arguments in favor of probation as a part of the executive branch?
Arguably, many arguments exist in favor of probation being part of the judicial arm of the government. The probation department assists courts in decision making by providing presentence investigation reports. Therefore, probation best fits as a part of the judicial branch of the government. Argument exist that people in local areas understand values and culture. The Judiciary also works closely with human service departments thus understands their needs efficiently. Probation also assists courts in imposing reasonable and legal sentences (Abadinsky, 2009).
However, the probation department's role is that of enforcement, so it is more aligned with the executive branch of the government. Upon sentencing, this department enforces the terms of probation as imposed. Should the probation terms be violated, a probation officer can file a petition in court seeking revocation of probation. In this case, a probation officer testifies against the probationer which is an improper exercise for the judicial branch. As such, the probation department best suits as a part of the executive branch since it enforces the laws imposed by the judicial branch of the government. However, presentence report writing and enforcement of probation play a critical role in the judicial and executive branch, but probation best fits as part of the executive. On a federal level, probation is more appropriate as part of the judicial branch.
Abadinsky, H. (2009). Probation and Parole: Theory and Practice. (10th ed.). Prentice Hall.
Santos, G., M. (2008). Presentence investigation reports (PSI or PSR). 1-17. Retrieved from http:// www.diamond.canvasdreams.com/~michalsa/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/TR-1.4