Travis Drop Box: Criminal Justice


  1. Drop box: 20 points possible. What factors have led to the rapid changes in sentencing structures in the United States?

In the United States, the transformation that the sentencing enterprise has undergone in the past years is clearly evident, a factor that has largely contributed to the reformations in the criminal justice system. Legislators have graduated to more structured and considerate forms of sentencing, from the traditional discretionary indeterminate systems that was popular in the 20th Century (Allen, 2013). This new transformation has introduced a new chapter in United States’ criminal justice history, creating a veritable sentencing revolution. While scholars argue that this revolution has not been fully conceptualized, its impacts in the criminal justice system are obvious.

There are numerous factors that could be held accountable for the tremendous changes that the U.S. justice system has experienced in the recent past, as regards its sentencing structure. For instance, the increased fight for human rights has led to a new structure of decision-making within the modern court jurisprudence. The indeterminate sentencing would see an offender sentence to a minimum and a maximum jail term, while the exact date of release would only be a function of one’s good behavior. The parole board had a higher hand in determining the actual release date, who would be required to sense when an offender had changed for the better while incarcerated (Casper & Brereton, 1984). This system was marred with a myriad of inconsistencies, and most offenders were never offered the possibility of parole.

The political system as largely contributed towards this recognizable shift. Since prisoners obviously showed disgust with the concept of indeterminate sentencing, rehabilitation, and living conditions in the cells, politicians seeking new election this as a tool to make promises for better conditions (Casper & Brereton, 1984). These two factors, among many others, led to the changes in the sentencing structure that has presently revolutionized the criminal justice system.


Allen, H. E. (2013). Corrections in America: an Introduction, 2nd Custom Edition for Columbia College. Prentice Hall, Inc., ISBN 13: 978-0-13-272677-1.

Casper, J. & Brereton, D. (1984). “Evaluating Criminal Justice Reforms.” Law and Society Review, 18: 122-144.