According to the Black’s law dictionary (2016), armed robbery can be defined as “a robbery where the person carrying out is armed by having a lethal weapon and threatens his victims with bodily harm.” Undoubtedly, armed robbery is a serious crime, but if it requires a further punishment enforcement is a question of a major debate.
Robberies, as crimes, can be split into three categories: third, second and first degree robberies. Even though the definition of robbery varies from state to state and from situation to situation, a third degree robbery always entails the lightest penalty and a first degree robbery always necessitates the most severe punishment. While a third degree robbery is classified as a level D felony and may involve as much as seven years of imprisonment, a third degree robbery (especially if the victim is seriously injured) is classified as a level B felony and entails the sentence of up to twenty five years. So, we need to make it clear that doubling a sentence of those convinced in armed robbery will mean that the maximal length of imprisonment may change to as much as fourteen years of custody for criminals accused in a third degree crime and as much as fifty years of custody for criminals accused in a first degree crime. The consecutive question is whether such policy is reasonable to implement.
I will begin with discussing why it might be a smart move from a societal point of view. To begin with, studies have showed that former prisoners tend to commit repetitive crimes after they leave the prison. So, keeping an armed robber imprisoned for a longer time may secure a society from him repeating it again in the future. If before the policy implementation the criminal had to spend five years in a jail, now the society will be absolutely safe for ten years.
Second, longer sentence may actually prevent future robberies committed by people who are not scared with the current shorter sentences. This might be especially true for criminals who embark on smaller, third degree robberies.
There are however several crucial objections against increasing years of custody. From the societal perspective, the increase sentence means that the tax payers will face a harder burden of supporting prisoners. As it is known, these are tax payers’ money that spent on housing and feeding prisoners. So basically doubling a sentence for armed robberies would mean doubling the money load beared by tax payers.
But tax payers may suffer additional expenditures. In particular, more prisons have to be built, provided that current inmates have longer sentences. This is can be very problematic, given how expensive it is to build new or expand an already existent jail. Overcrowded penitentiaries may also have a negative externality on convicts and their monitors. While worsened living conditions of convicts may lead to higher number of crimes within jails, their warders may find it more difficult to screen and control them.
The final negative of the policy is related to the moral and educational aspect. We should remember that keeping a person isolated in a cell – most of the times – does not change the person for better. It does not make him learn from his bad deeds. Moreover, it may change him for worse, especially if he makes bad friends over the sentence duration.
To sum up, increasing the duration of a sentence for convicted in armed robberies is a complex question requiring an all-rounded approach. The analysis in this regard should be very careful and multifaceted, and its scope should significantly exceed the size of a two-page recommendation.
- Black’s law dictionary. (2016). Available at http://thelawdictionary.org/armed-robbery/