You will prepare and submit a term paper on Crime Seriousness and Prior Criminal Record. Your paper should be a minimum of 1000 words in length. As the discussion declares there is a positive correlation between a person’s prior criminal record and the chances that firstly, such a person is more likely to commit an offence in the future, and secondly, that there is a greater probability of such offences resulting in imprisonment. Moreover, as a result of mandatory sentencing policies, repeat offenders are now far more likely to face imprisonment. A prior record sets into motion totally different responses amongst law enforces, with the suspect considered ‘guilty until proved innocent’, rather than the other way around which is the basis of modern jurisprudence. However, this ground reality has resulted in two developments that go contrary to conventional logic.
This paper stresses that though crime rates have declined, prison populations have actually increased, which questions the very basic premise that the threat of getting caught and imprisoned actually deters crime. In fact, the prison population is likely to grow in coming years. A study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that the 1994 prison population would rise by 51% by the year 2000. This is a direct result of taking into account a person’s prior criminal record, however minor and irrespective of the relevance of previous offences to the new charge. The other aspect is the increasing numbers of African Americans in particular that constitute the prison population. This is in spite of the fact that several positive changes in society such as the civil rights movement and enhanced educational and employment opportunities.