Truth-in-sentencing laws are an aspect of the retributive justice system perspective. This perspective emphasizes the idea that criminal offenders should be held accountable for their actions and that their punishment should fit the crime committed. This is in contrast to the restorative justice system perspective, which focuses on repairing the harm caused by the crime and restoring the relationship between the offender and the victim.

Truth in sentencing

legal concepts

truth in sentence (TIS) is a collection of different but related public policy positions on verdict of those convicted of crimes at the justice system. In most contexts, it refers to policies and legislation that seek to abolish or curb parole for the condemned to serve the period for which they were sentenced. Truth-in-sentence advocates relate such policies in terms of the public interest. right to know; they argue, for example, that it is misleading to sentence an individual to “seven to nine years” and then release him or her after he or she has served only six years.

In some cases, the truth in sentences is linked to other movements, such as mandatory sentence (in which particular crimes carry automatic sentences regardless of extenuating circumstances) and habitual offender or “three strikes“Laws in which State law requires state courts to establish mandatory and extended deadlines for incarceration for people who have been convicted of a crime on multiple occasions.


In Canada, the Truth in Sentencing Act, or Bill C-25, took effect on Monday, February 22, 2010. This bill amends s.719 of the canada penal code, limiting a sentencing judge’s discretion to give credence to individuals who spent time incarcerated prior to sentencing. Until then, as discussed by Judge Arbor in R v. Wustpre-conviction custody credit was not determined by a ‘mathematical formula’, but many judges often awarded a two-for-one credit.

This is justified by the quantitative and qualitative differences between pre- and post-sentence incarceration. Most incarcerated individuals will not serve the full sentence, and since time spent in prison prior to sentencing does not count towards remission time, if extended pre-sentencing imprisonment is credited equally to post-sentence incarceration, the convicted individual serves a longer sentence compared to an individual receiving the same sentence without a lengthy pre-conviction prison term. Arbor also points out that pre-sentence incarceration is usually served in detention, in circumstances more severe than the sentence will require and without access to educational, rehabilitation and vocational programs.

Bill C-25 creates three changes to the Penal Code; now under s.719(3), generally the maximum credit a judge can give is 1:1. Under s.719(3.1) and 719(3.2) a judge may give a credit of 1.5:1 only “if circumstances warrant it.” Pursuant to s.719(3.1), the sentencing judge cannot give more than 1:1 credit if the reason for the pre-sentencing incarceration is that person’s criminal record or if that individual has violated bail conditions.

The constitutionality of this bill was contested under s.7, s.13 and s.15 of Letter in the Court of Justice of Ontario by Marvin Johnson. The court held that the surviving amendment charter scrutiny if the sentence if circumstances warrant is interpreted in such a way as not to limit the granting of a 1.5:1 credit to such a high standard “as to require a level of exceptionality that goes far beyond the common experience of “down time” or the penal disparities that normally result from such preventive detention”. In this case, Johnson, who was sentenced to 18 months for selling $20 worth of cocaine to an undercover police officer, received a 1.5:1 credit for the 12 months he spent in custody prior to sentencing and was released two days later. your prison. sentencing hearing to a one-year probation period.


The first law requiring veracity in sentences in the United States was passed by the state of Washington in 1984. In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act created the Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth in Sentencing program, which provided grants to states as long as they passed laws requiring that Part 1 offenders violent crimes must serve at least 85% of the sentence for felonies prior to becoming eligible for parole. As of 2008, the District of Colombia and 35 of the 50 states qualify for this additional funding.


At the new south wales, “truth in sentencing” was introduced with the ‘Sentencing Act 1989’. According The Sydney Morning Heraldsince the enactment of the legislation, life imprisonment “meant life”. The term “truth in judgment”, which was commonly used to refer to legislation, was endorsed by the Australian Law Reform Commission. As the legislation removed inmates from time off for good behavior, it also removed an important incentive for prisoners to behave and motivated some to try to escape.

The first murderer to be convicted under the legislation was Matthew Webster, who was convicted by the murder of Leigh Leigh. In 1990, Webster received 14 years with an additional six-year probation period; he remained in prison for 14 and a half years. If he had received a ‘life sentence’ under the previous legislation, it is likely that he would have only served nine years due to his age.

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