Balancing crimes and lengths of sentences

I’ve often pondered about lengths of sentences and how much time in prison would be “tolerable”. What is the line between punishment for a crime and over-punishment? One year in prison can probably seem like an eternity to those serving the sentence, but not much at all to those on the outside. Do sentencing schemes take into account the difficulties of serving a sentence and should they? I’ve looked at a client’s seven year sentence and thought about all the things I’ve done in the past seven years and imagined doing none of them; instead sitting in a jail cell, locked up. I’m not particularly referring to crimes that result in death, but almost everything else. When does a sentence become too long? How do legislatures balance this, if at all?

I’m not sure there is an easy answer  – just some idle Saturday afternoon rumination.

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