Sentencing and Penal Policy

Course number: LAW 3980

The vast majority of criminal charges result in a conviction, whether by guilty plea or conviction at trial. This seminar focuses on the principles and practice of sentencing, while also looking in some detail at the sanction of imprisonment, penal policy and prisoners’ rights. The course will be run as an advanced seminar class. Students are expected to attend class, be prepared to discuss the issues raised in the assigned readings, and participate in advocacy exercises.

Evaluation will be by way of: (1) a research paper of 7,500 words; (2) a written and oral presentation on course readings; (3) a written and oral sentencing submission; and (4) general participation grade based on attendance and engagement.

The following topics will be considered:

  • Theories and Objectives of Punishment
  • Sentencing Principles – Legislative and Common Law
  • Aggravating and Mitigating Factors
  • Plea Discussions and Joint Submissions
  • Options: Discharges, Probation, Fines, Imprisonment, Conditional Sentences
  • Collateral Sentencing Orders
  • Preventive Detention and Preventive Supervision
  • Youth and Sentencing
  • Aboriginal Peoples and Sentencing
  • Restorative Justice and Alternatives to Incarceration
  • Parole and Early Release
  • Imprisonment of Women
  • Prisoners’ Rights
  • Review of Prison Decision Making
  • Immigration and Mental Health Detention

INSTRUCTOR: Anthony Kavanagh

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