A Values and Evidence Approach to Sentencing Purposes and Principles

Appendix 2: Some Examples of Purposes of Sentencing

The Criminal Code (from 23 July 2013)

718 The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to protect society and to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

  1. to denounce unlawful conduct and the harm done to victims or to the community that is caused by unlawful conduct;
  2. to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;
  3. to separate offenders from society, where necessary;
  4. to assist in rehabilitating offenders;
  5. to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and
  6. to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims or to the community.

The Criminal Code (from 3 September 1996 until 22 July 2015)

718 The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

  1. to denounce unlawful conduct;
  2. to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;
  3. to separate offenders from society, where necessary;
  4. to assist in rehabilitating offenders;
  5. to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and
  6. to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims and to the community.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act

38 (1) The purpose of sentencing under section 42 (youth sentences) is to hold a young person accountable for an offence through the imposition of just sanctions that have meaningful consequences for the young person and that promote his or her rehabilitation and reintegration into society, thereby contributing to the long-term protection of the public.

Criminal Law in Canadian Society (1982)

The criminal law should provide sanctions for criminal conduct that are related to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender, and that reflect the need for protection of the public against further offences by the offender and for adequate deterrence against similar offences by others.

The Criminal Law Reform Act, 1984 (C-19, 32nd Parliament, 2nd session)Footnote 55

645. (I) It is hereby recognized and declared that the fundamental purpose underlying the imposition of a sentence for an offence is the protection of the public and that this end may be furthered by:

  1. promoting respect for the law through the imposition of just sentences;
  2. separating offenders from society, where necessary;
  3. deterring the offender and other persons from committing offences;
  4. promoting and providing for redress to victims of offences or to the community; and
  5. promoting and providing for opportunities for offenders to become law-abiding members of society.

The Canadian Sentencing Commission (1987)

Overall Purpose of the Criminal Law

It is hereby recognized and declared that the enjoyment of peace and security are necessary values of life in society and consistent therewith, the overall purpose of the criminal law is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society.

Fundamental Purpose of Sentencing

It is further recognized and declared that in a free and democratic society peace and security can only be enjoyed through the due application of the principles of fundamental justice. In furtherance of the overall purpose of the criminal law of maintaining a just, peaceful and safe society, the fundamental purpose of sentencing is to preserve the authority of and promote respect for the law through the imposition of just sanctions.

The “Daubney” Committee (House of Commons Standing Committee), 1988:

The purpose of sentencing is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by holding offenders accountable for their criminal conduct through the imposition of just sanctions which:

  1. require, or encourage when it is not possible to require, offenders to acknowledge the harm they have done to victims and the community, and to take responsibility for the consequences of their behaviour;
  2. take account of the steps offenders have taken, or propose to take, to make reparations to the victim and/or the community for the harm done or to otherwise demonstrate acceptance of responsibility;
  3. facilitate victim-offender reconciliation where victims so request, or are willing to participate in such programs;
  4. if necessary, provide offenders with opportunities which are likely to facilitate their habilitation or rehabilitation as productive and law-abiding members of society; and
  5. if necessary, denounce the behaviour and/or incapacitate the offender.

Directions for Reform: Sentencing (1990)

  1. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society through the imposition of just sanctions.
  2. The court [shall/may] consider the following objectives in assessing the appropriate sentence to be imposed upon an offender:
    1. denouncing blameworthy behaviour
    2. deterring the offender and others from committing offences;
    3. separating offenders from society, where necessary;
    4. providing for redress for the harm done to individual victims or to the community;
    5. promoting a sense of responsibility on the part of offenders and providing for opportunities to assist in their rehabilitation as productive and law-abiding members of society.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (sentencing)… (Bill C-90, 34th Parliament, 3rd session) Introduced: 23 June 1992)

718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

  1. to denounce unlawful conduct;
  2. to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;
  3. to separate offenders from society;
  4. to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community;
  5. to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and to the community; and
  6. to assist in rehabilitating offenders.
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