Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
A determinate sentence operates when a judge assigns a convicted offender to a term of imprisonment for a specific time period, for example, three years. Thus, determinacy refers to knowledge at sentencing of the amount of time that the convicted person will actually serve. “Good time” credits (or remission) typically modify that presumption, but even so, offenders enter prison with much better knowledge of how much time they will actually serve than they would if they were given an indeterminate sentence. In the United States, determinate sentencing systems usually provide also for probation as an option. This means that the sentencing choice, which is typically negotiated in exchange for a guilty plea, amounts first to an in-out decision—to prison or to probation—followed by specification of amount of time (usually measured in years) or, in the case of probation, conditions of release. Determinate sentencing reemerged in the 1970s in the United ...