Theories of punishment

Felony and Misdemeanor A principle often mentioned with respect to the degree of punishment to be meted out is that the punishment should match the crime. Measurements of the degree of seriousness of a crime have been developed. Possible reasons for punishment[ edit ] See also: Criminal justice There are many possible reasons that might be given to justify or explain why someone ought to be punished; here follows a broad outline of typical, possibly conflicting, justifications.

Theories of punishment

Background Philosophical reflection on punishment has helped cause, and is itself partially an effect of, developments in the understanding of punishment that have taken place outside the academy in the real world of political life.

A generation ago sociologists, criminologists, and penologists became disenchanted with the rehabilitative effects as measured by reductions in offender recidivism of programs conducted in prisons aimed at this end Martinson This disenchantment led to skepticism about the feasibility of the very aim of rehabilitation within the framework of existing penal philosophy.

To these were added skepticism over the deterrent effects of punishment whether special, aimed at the offender, or general, aimed at the public and as an effective goal to pursue in punishment. That left, apparently, only two possible Theories of punishment aims to pursue in the practice of punishment under law: Social defense through incarceration, and retributivism.

Public policy advocates insisted that the best thing to do with convicted offenders was to imprison them, in the belief that the most economical way to reduce crime was to incapacitate known recidivists via incarceration, or even death Wilson Whatever else may be true, this aim at least has been achieved on a breathtaking scale, as the enormous growth in the number of state and federal prisoners in the United States some 2.

At the same time that enthusiasm for incarceration and incapacitation was growing as the preferred methods of punishment, dissatisfaction with the indeterminate prison sentence—crucial to any rehabilitative scheme because of the discretion it grants to penal officials—on grounds of fairness led policy analysts to search for another approach.

Fairness in sentencing seemed most likely to be achievable if a criminal sentence was of a determinate rather than indeterminate duration Allen But even determinate sentencing would not be fair unless the sentences so authorized were the punishments that convicted offenders deserved.

Aside from being an impractical goal, it is morally defective for two reasons: The oddity of a theory that affirms having and exercising a right to be punished has not escaped notice.

Second, justice or fairness in punishment is the essential task of sentencing, and a just sentence takes its character from the culpability of the offender and the harm the crime caused the victim and society Cardvon HirschNozick In short, just punishment is retributive punishment.

Philosophers reached these conclusions because they argued that there were irreducible retributive aspects to punishment—in the very definition of the practice, in the norms governing justice in punishment, and in the purpose of the practice as well.

As a result, the ground was cut out from under the dominant penal policy of mid-century, the indeterminate sentence in the service of the rehabilitative ideal for offenders behind bars.

Probation as the essential nonincarcerative alternative sanction received an expanded role, but release on parole came to a virtual end. In its place but as it turned out, only in theory was uniform determinate sentencing, which would avoid the follies of unachievable rehabilitative goals and ensure both incapacitation and even-handed justice for all offenders.

Theories of Punishment:

This was, of course, before the political process distorted these aims. Not all admirers of justice in punishment supported determinate sentencing. The doctrine has not been without its critics, both in theory and in practice Zimring But to date, no alternative approach shows any signs of supplementing the just deserts sentencing philosophy—no matter how preposterous in practice the claim that a given punitive sentence is justly deserved may be in most cases.

There has been a third development concurrent with the two outlined above, far less influential in the formation of actual penalty policy even if it is of equal theoretical importance Harding We refer to the reconceptualization of the practice of punishment arising from the work of Michel Foucault in the mids.

Foucault invited us to view the practice of punishment under law as subject to general forces in society that reflect the dominant forms of social and political power—the power to threaten, coerce, suppress, destroy, transform—that prevail in any given epoch.

And he also cultivated a deep suspicion toward the claims that contemporary society had significantly humanized the forms of punishment by abandoning the savage corporal brutality that prevailed in the bad old days, in favor of the hidden concrete-and-steel carceral system of the modern era Foucault Professed goals of punishment, norms constraining the use of power in the pursuit of these goals, the aspiration for justice in punishment—all these, if Foucault is right, turn out to mask other not necessarily conscious intentions among reformers that belie the ostensible rationality not to say rationalization of their aims since the Enlightenment.

Thus, the movement against capital punishment in the late eighteenth century is not to be explained or, presumably, justified by the influence of conscious, rational utilitarian calculations of the sort that Beccaria and Bentham argued had persuaded them to oppose the death penalty BedauMaestro Theories of Punishment Changes in U.S.

politics have caused shifts in the theoretical purposes of sentencing. During the heyday of liberalism in the s and s, the judicial and executive branches (for example, parole boards) wielded power in sentencing.

Theories of punishment

Comment: A readable copy. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact. Pages can include considerable notes-in pen or highlighter-but the notes cannot obscure the text. Theories (or objectives) of punishment. Broadly speaking, four theoretical explanations have been advanced as the basis upon which society acts in imposing penalty upon one who violates laws.

May 13,  · The Five Theories of Punishment. The following theories of punishment explain how and why justice is doled out to those that deserve it. This course on the fairness of justice will take you deeper into the world of law.

Deterrence; This theory of punishment refers to two different types of deterrence: general and Matthew Johnson. May 13,  · Punishment is our topic of discussion today, specifically the reasonings behind it, also referred to as the theories of punishment.

Always a hot button issue, how and why we punish law breakers is left up to the government, and depending on which way the current government leans, they decide which theories will influence how they Author: Matthew Johnson.

Modern Theory of Punishment is a combination of all the three theories discussed above. Retributive Theory is applied in the civil courts. In other words, the monetary loss of the sufferer is compensated and the criminal has to compensate for the loss.

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