Are habitual offender laws targeting the right people for incarceration? Why or why not?
Yes. This is because habitual offenders are subject to extreme penalty in most jurisdictions and thus most statutes provide for an increased penalty if a defendant has been convicted of a stated number of felonies particularly within a certain period of time (Hall, 2008). In addition, Scheb (2005) says that "in an effort to incapacitate habitual offenders, the laws of many states require automatic increased penalties for persons convicted of repeated felonies" (p. 232).
Habitual offender laws are targeting the right people for incarceration because most courts hold that habitual offender status is not established if a defendant committed the present offense before having been convicted of a prior offense (Scheb, 2005). Habitual offender laws targeting the right people for incarceration because the statue of habitual offender is met by the threshold of the repeated convictions of the same offender after a certain period of time. Its purpose should be to prevent further crime by the same convicts again.
Should individuals who commit misdemeanors, regardless of their status, be subjected to lengthy prison terms? Why or why not?
No. This is because a misdemeanor is a crime for which punishment is authorized up to but not including one year in a local jail (Carlan, Nored & Downey, 2010). Although misdemeanor crimes have been dissected into multiple seriousness scales, it is important to note that using this classification system a crime for which punishment ranges from six to twelve months in jail is a gross misdemeanor (Carlan, Nored & Downey, 2010).
Misdemeanors are considered as less serious crimes but they account for a the majority of arrests made each year in United States and therefore increasing the lengthy of prison terms means that there will be many convicts serving long jail terms. Individuals caught with this type of offenses can however be corrected or be subjected to assessment for fines. Also lengthy prisons for misdemeanor sentencing schemes are too harsh and may result to long jail terms for individuals who could be rehabilitated for a certain period of time (Carlan, Nored & Downey, 2010).
What standards should govern whether defendants are prosecuted as habitual offenders? Explain
Habitual offender's laws are a reflection of the public growing intolerance with recidivism and career offenders (Carlan, Nored & Downey, 2010). The first standard is that the laws should first target offenders who fail to stop their criminal behavior after an initial conviction. Carlan, Nored & Downey (2010) established that these statutes should become effective after conviction of a third felony which should be considered as the second standard. The third standard is that habitual offender sentencing schemes; the penalty should be life imprisonment if all prerequisites are met.
The fourth standard is that the states should specify the type of felony that qualifies as a predicate crime defined as previous offenses for which a defendant has been convicted. Carlan, Nored & Downey (2010) indicated that the prosecution should demonstrate that the offender had committed three violent felonies before he or she could be sentenced pursuant to the habitual offender statue. The final standard according to Carlan, Nored & Downey (2010) is that "the statue requires that the offenses occur within a particular time frame for example ten years period" (p. 29).