Aims of Sentencing

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The issue in this question is regarding the effect of Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003) to previous English sentencing system regarding one of the aims of punishment i.e. retribution. It is a duty for courts to apply under section 142 (1) of CJA 2003. The section requires the courts to have regarded the aims in imposing sentence to offenders which has now plays a smaller role in serving punishment. And how profound this changes has been.

I will discuss briefly about (a) historical background of CJA 2003, (b) identify who is CJA successor, (c) recognise difference in principle between CJA and its successor i.e. principles, aims and prioritises, (d) as how it bring effect to aims of sentencing today to offenders, victims and communities, (e) and clarify which type of aims actually the court based upon in deciding the appropriate sentence to adult offenders in respect to custodial and community sentence. To agree or not to agree with the statement.


Before 1991, there was no statutory provision or general statutory framework comprising aims of sentencing which courts ought to rely upon. This had left the courts to decide on its own based on the facts of the case what is the best sentence for offender. However, by granting unlimited power of the court in fixing sentence, this caused uncertainty as on what basis the courts has reached upon such sentence. Hence, in 1991, CJA was set up in order to have a systematic approach to achieve aims of punishment. The main provisions under the 1991 Act were dominant by retributive theories which focused on sentences must commensurate with the seriousness of the offence. However, some parts of the legislation reflect utilitarian theories in the g...

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... somehow gives a sense of security and protection under the law. By having additional aims in sentencing, it will somehow bring a balance between punishing offender for offence committed and harmonization in the community. Hence, it is seems like retributive has become the second element in aims of sentencing but in actual fact, retribution has been implemented in sentencing guidance in particular the concept of seriousness of offence. The main difference between CJA 1991 and 2003 is the creation of SGC to monitor the sentencing guidelines and such body has brought an impact on sentencer in fixing sentence and also on the aims of sentencing. Hence, it is safe to say that retributive principle still playing a role in aims of sentencing. It might not look like playing the main role as mention in the quotation but foundation of CJA 2003 was made up upon such theory.
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