A deferred sentence is a type of sentence where an offender serves a period of probation and afterwards, may be sentenced if they don’t comply. Essentially, if you agree to plead guilty (usually to a lesser offense), you are sentenced to supervised probation. If you breach the terms of the probation, your trial will begin. If not, the conviction can be thrown out.
Many prefer deferred sentencing since it is a second chance tool for offenders of less serious crimes. In addition, given the cost of housing one offender in a government prison, many believe that reducing the number of people incarcerated in our society is a positive thing. Although there are obviously downsides to deferred sentencing, there benefits can be quite the significant for society and in the lives of offenders.
No permanent criminal record for offender
Depending on what jurisdiction the offense is done in, an offender might not have a permanent record after receiving a deferred sentence. This is beneficial because a criminal record could seriously hinder the employment opportunities for an ex-convict. This has negative implications for society since it will mean there are more unemployed people and as such, more people receiving government benefits which costs taxpayer’s money. Additionally, a permanent criminal record attaches a negative stigma to a person so it can help give a second chance to someone who perhaps made one bad decision and has not committed as serious of a crime.
Less costly than prison
New York City recently released a report showing that the cost to keep each inmate in one of their prisons was $168,000 a year. This shockingly high figure helps us appreciate just how significant of an undertaking it can be to incarcerate or imprison someone. As such, alternatives to prison should be looked at more carefully since a cost this high is unaffordable for the majority of governments. In addition, it begs the question of why such an exorbitant amount of funds is being spent to house, feed and basically take care of criminals.
The potential for errors in judgment
Since it is at times possible that the person accused of the crime did not actually commit it, a deferred sentence can potentially save someone who did not commit the crime but was maybe framed. There is no way of knowing what percentage of cases were decided accurately as opposed to inaccurately, so a deferred sentence can make the judgment less severe for people who were wrongfully accused. Even where the correct judgment was made, the probation order gives sufficient oversight to the offender to ensure that society is not at risk.
It is clear that deferred sentencing has many benefits that should not be overlooked. Although there are many who are ‘tough on crime’ who might suggest that a deferred sentence does not take the crime committed seriously, a deferred sentence considers many more factors. As a whole, although less severe, deferred sentences can have a greater positive impact on society, which would be lost if they were ever disallowed.