To What Extent Do You Feel That the Purpose of Punishment Is to A) Protect Society, B) Punish Criminals, or C) Rehabilitate and Reform Criminals?
Punishment has been in existence since the early colonial period and has continued throughout history as a method used to deter criminals from committing criminal acts. Philosophers believe that punishment is a necessity in today’s modern society as it is a worldwide response to crime and violence. Immanuel Kant believes that if an individual commits a crime then punishment should be inflicted upon that individual for the crime committed.
There are five probable purposes of criminals’ punishment. They are incapacitation, deterrence, restitution, retribution, and rehabilitation. Incapacitation is aimed at keeping a felon in prison. He/she will not be able to commit a new crime while being imprisoned. If the crime was very cruel, the felon can be sentenced to capital punishment. It will not give him/her possibility to commit the crime once more. Deterrence has another influence on people. People have a fear of committing the crime or engaging anybody in it. Retribution is one of the strongest purposes of punishment (Bentham, 2010). The criminals harm society, and victims can do harm in turn. Rehabilitation’s purpose is to change offender’s mind and to make him/her become a valuable member of society. Restitution is one of the purposes, which allows victim to regain his/her status in the society. The offender must perform some actions, which will help the victim to regain the status. Punishment assists in it. In addition, there are two more purposes, which can show that punishment is a vital process. They are education and denunciation. Education helps offenders to realize what they did and that it was wrong. Denunciation of the community also helps to become better and to return to the community with new and right views.
It is often assumed that if a person is remorseful about their actions, then they may not have anticipated the outcomes or could have done harm accidentally. Further, the motive behind the action may sometimes neutralize the harshness of the sentence, as some intentions are more morally acceptable than others (Carlsmith et al., 2002). State and federal criminal justice systems also punish to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. Therefore, deterrence is a key reason for passing sentences. The logic behind this motive is that if a person is aware of the liability for their actions, then they will be prevented from committing future crimes. They will weigh the benefit of committing the wrong against the cost of getting caught and refrain from doing so.Common forms of punishment in the deterrence school include corporal punishment, imprisonment, and payment of fines. Usually, punishers make the sentence public such that other people will be aware of the act and refrain from engaging in it in the future.
Generally speaking, I would like to say that I have not come to a conclusion yet on whether or not punishment actually helps and rehabilitates the delinquents. But I am sure that punishment so far is the function which separates those who live legally and those who do not. I also believe that the fear of punishment changes people behaviour a lot, as we all are afraid of punishment… is that not true?
Carlsmith, K., Darley, J. & Robinson, P. (2002). Why do we punish? Deterrence and just deserts as motives for punishment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(2), 284-299.
Miller, C. & Bales, W. (2012). The impact of determinate sentencing on prisoner misconduct. Journal of Criminal Justice, 40(5), 394-403.
Reid, S., (2000). Crime and Criminology, 9th edition. McGraw Hill Publishers. USA
Siegel, L. (2008). Essentials of Criminal Justice. 6th Edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Georgia, USA.
White, J. (2000). Contemporary Moral Problems. 9th edition. Cengage Learning Inc. USA