Suiting the appropriate punishment to the crime is often difficult. I have heard many people state that the offender should be put to death the same way they killed. The “eye for an eye” concept may be put out there by the community, but it is not realist in America. Certainly, at times, it violates the Eighth Amendment of cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot justify cut the hand off an individual for stealing within our system. The punishment often does not fit the crime within the system. Mandatory sentencing takes sanctions away from the jury or magistrate and automatically places the convicted in prison. In turn, this overcrowds the prisons and costs taxpayers more money to house them. On the other hand, the offender may get off lightly to the crime convicted. The ‘affluent’ case comes to mind. The public cries that justice was not served. I try to validate by saying that the system ran its course, the suspect had all his rights met, and a judgement was handed down. Therefore, justice was served.
The term proportionality, meaning that legislature should enact an exact scale of crimes with an exact scale of threatened punishment, without regard to individual differences. If the legislature is concerned with proportionality, then they should be concerned with disproportionality. Regarding race, the disproportionality in our criminal justice and prison systems are experiencing is difficult to answer. I have students that have researched prison populations and concluded that it does not match the crimes committed for each race. “Exactly,” is my answer. Although, I do have a difficult time explaining why this occurs.