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According to Virgo (2006), in a criminal justice system, there are various alternatives for incarcerating adult offenders depending on the magnitude of the crime committed. The sentences however vary from state to sate hence a two similar crimes committed in two different states will not necessarily attract the same sentencing option. Sentencing is accorded to someone who has been found guilty in a court of law after a determination being made on the facts that have been relied on. The option is reached upon after considering all the available forms of sentencing options depending on a number of factors. To this effect, the offender may be sentenced to options like probation, restitution or restorative justice.
This is a form of sentence whereby the offender is released from confinement but remains under the supervision of the court for the trial or testing period. It can be practiced in two forms; it can be accorded in lieu of a prison term or secondly if the convict over and over again demonstrates good behavior, it can suspend the sentence. The offender given some freedom has a condition of behaving in a way that is approved by a special probation officer to whom the he (convict) must report. With respect to this, probation is the time during which an offender is subject to crucial evaluation and examination (Abadinsky, 2003).
Abadinsky (2003) states that in the criminal justice system, the judicial authority is granted power by the statutes on the state and federal levels to order for probation if the convict demonstrates consistent good behavior allowing them to be free with a sentence that is suspended for a specific period of time. Violation of probation conditions by the probationer attracts serious additional punishment and they may be ordered to serve an imprisonment term.
Generally probation is reserved for people who are sentenced to short period in jail hence it not combined with long jail sentence. Probation statutes outline crimes liable for and conditions for probation and the sentencing judge holds wide discretion of conditions depending on the best interest of both the defendant and the public. For instance, if the offender pleads guilty to assault, they may be ordered by the court to stay a specific distance out the sight of the assault victim (Abadinsky, 2003).
In the criminal justice system, the concept of concept of restitution is used to the act of compensating for the injury, damage or loss caused by reverting as much as possible to the original position prior to occurrence of such damage. It entails an order by the judge to the offender to pay their victims in compensation for the related crime’s damages. This is part of offenders’ sentence and it is ordered in both juvenile and adult cases as a result of conviction or pleading guilty. Consequently, the restitution amount that the judge orders is dependent upon the expenses of the victim which are related to the committed crime and the ability of the offenders to pay (Virgo, 2006).
Any requests for restitution have to be made before the sentencing of the offender in official writing. Restitution forms are normally available from the victim service provider, prosecutor of the county or the corrections officer. It should be noted that the consequent applications must be supplemented by supporting documents that detail the loss (Virgo, 2006). This has to contain: receipts for insurance payment, dental/medical bills, counseling bills, verification of loss of wage, damaged or stolen property estimates, transportation expenses, and many others which have to be directly related the said crime.
The victims must request for restitution in the criminal process as soon as possible. In some cases, victims may lack some of the necessary documentation for the court to order for restitution hence they have to talk to the service provider in the neighborhood to determine the deadline of the request. It is also important for the prosecutors to receive notification on whether a victim will request for restitution before plea of guilty to make sure that there is consideration of restitution as fraction of the sentence. Additionally applications for reparations have to be submitted promptly to accelerate reimbursement of the loss of the victim hence the victims or their families do not have to wait until the completion of the treatment. Incase of any additional expenses, further requests for reparations may be requested by applicants (Marshall, 1999).
Restitution is not only paid to natural persons but also to families, corporation, government entity, church, business among others and it can only be applied for expenses that are out-of-pocket that a victim incurs due to a crime. Any expenses that are incurred by a different critical incident can not be considered for payment and also payment for emotional trauma and/or physical pain can not be ordered by the court.
According to Virgo (2006) the hearing for restitution can be appealed for by either the victim or the defendant. If the offender or the victim feels uncomfortable and challenges the sum of restitution that has been ordered by the judge or the legitimacy of the expenses presented by the victims, a hearing will be held to settle the issue.