Research Project

Hena Mehta

Majors: Political Science and Criminal Justice
Faculty Advisor: Professor Milt Heumann

Policy Presentation Theme: Security and (In)Justice

The US and Portugal operate under two distinct legal systems and retain separate ideas as to how often incarceration should be used as a sanction for offenders. Among others, plea bargaining, sentence lengths, and appellate review, can be argued as the notable differences that lay the framework to better understand why the two countries practice different ideals. This basic framework, I find, ultimately points to a bigger conclusion about each country’s perspective on what proper offender punishment looks like, most especially with drug crimes. This divergence stems from each country’s trust in different legal models that they believe is the best approach in handling offender behavior; Portugal believing in a more rehabilitative model, which implements shorter sentences, resorts to incarceration less, and strictly focuses on offender rehabilitation, whereas the US pushes for the opposite – longer sentences and emphasis on incarceration as the readily viable form of punishment.