Jakub Drápal
Author’s affiliation: Faculty of Law, Charles University

Sentencing offenders who have not served their previous punishments in full: Should we treat them as repeat or multiple offenders?

Jurisprudence 2/2020 Section: Articles Page: 1–17

Keywords: sentencing, multiple offenders, repeat offenders, multiple conviction offenders

Abstract: Sentenced offenders who re-offend prior to serving the sentence, either fully or partially, are situated between multiple and repeat offenders. The act of sentencing itself cannot be grounds for treating them as repeat offenders based on censure theories, since censure is communicated primarily via hard treatment. If they are treated as repeat offenders, no consequentialist or desert sentencing aims can be achieved, nor can the requirement of proportionality. Yet, half of all continental European countries implicitly treat multiple-conviction offenders as repeat offenders and only two countries provide detailed guidance as to how to sentence them. As I show on data from the Czech Republic, which do not recognize any such category of offenders, this results in many prison sentences being served consecutively and distorts the proportionality between the offences committed and the sentences imposed. Suggestions concerning what should be reformed in the Czech context are provided.