Swift and Certain Punishment

Swift and Certain Punishment
Swift and Certain Punishment are essential elements of the criminal justice system of any country. The question of punishment swiftness and its certainty is very contradictory as in some issues they could be hardly combined: “Certain punishment is the second crucial component to combating hardcore drunk driving. In conjunction with swift identification, certain punishment is necessary not only to penalize the hardcore drunk driver, but to deter repeat behavior. Public pressure to deal severely with the problem has resulted in stricter legislation and tougher law enforcement” (The Century Council, 2008). The swiftness of the punishment would be very hard to provide in this case.

Let’s define what the swift punishment is. The swiftness of the punishment could be regarded to as the length of time from the arrest till the final sentence. It should be noted that in criminal justice it often occur the swift punishment could last for several ages as it could be affected by the appeals and other prolongations that occur in the criminal justice process

The punishment certainty is dealing with the fairness of it. Some investigators in criminal justice consider that swift and certain punishment are mutually exclusive as very seldom quick sentence and implementation of the punishment could be considered certain punishment, fair and does not violating one’s rights.
But in contemporary criminal justice system there exist an example that defeat the previous argument dealing with mutual exclusion of both components with the punishment: The HOPE program is the one which provides both components within the punishment: “The HOPE program — Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement — is an experimental probation program that emphasizes the delivery of "swift and certain" punishment when a probationer violates conditions of probation. NIJ-funded researchers evaluated HOPE to determine if it worked and results were positive” (National Institute of Justice, 2010). It should be noted that the program turned out to be really effective and during the one year, while the experiment was held there were observed numerous positive effects such as:

- 55 % less likely to be arrested for committing a new crime.
- 72 % less likely to take drugs.
- 61 % less likely to miss appointment meetings with their supervisory officer.
- 53 % less likely to have their probation period called back. (National Institute of Justice, 2010).

So we see what a positive effect was provided by implementation of the both methods within the punishment provision. It won’t be a secret that such a phenomena could hardly be used in all spheres of criminal justice as some cases really need long lasting process of experiments to reveal whether the person committed a crime or not. But if the situation with the laws violation is really clear it would be essential to use both of these techniques collaboratively as they were used within the HOPE program and the program was tested for men and women both: “ These results were generated using a randomized controlled trial. Researchers used a risk assessment tool to select 493 men and women who had an elevated risk of violating the terms of their probation through drug use, missed appointments or reoffending. Two-thirds of these were randomly assigned to be HOPE probationers and the remainder (the control group) were placed on probation as usual” (National Institute of Justice, 2010).


1. National Institute of Justice. "Swift and Certain" Sanctions in Probation Are Highly Effective: Evaluation of the HOPE Program. 201o. National Institute of Justice web site September 28, 2010.
2. The Century Council. Certain Punishment. National Hardcore Drunk Driver Project: 2008

Swift and Certain Punishment 8.3 of 10 on the basis of 1649 Review.