Punishment Essay

1104 words - 4 pages

Most children in our society have heard the phrase "Don't make me count or else!", or something comparable. Across the U.S. and other countries the use of punishment has been a common and integrated part of raising our children. But what is punishment? Which types of punishment deters crime most effectively, and do the consequences of punishment provide any benefits for criminals and society?Punishment is "The infliction of a penalty or sanction in retribution for an offence or transgression; (also) that which is inflicted as a penalty; a sanction imposed to ensure the application and enforcement of a law." ("Punishment," 2009). The types of punishment continues to fuel debates throughout our country. When a crime is committed regardless of how severe almost everyone in today's society believes that the criminal should be punished. The consequences of the crime should be calculated based on the gravity of the crime committed. In today's society there are four different forms of punishment that are utilized to deter criminal behavior; retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and societal protection.Retribution is defined as "an act of moral vengeance by which society makes the offender suffer as much as the suffering caused by the crime"(Macionis, 2006). This is one of the oldest forms of justification for punishment and in lame-mans terms is called "an eye for an eye". This type of justification for punishment has been around since the Middle Ages and was designed to satisfy humankinds need for some sort of closure after a crime had been committed. The theory behind "an eye for an eye" was the punishment for a crime should be equal in severity to the severity of the crime committed. While this form of punishment can be perceived as equal punishment, many people argue that it is a small step above barbarianism and does not help to reform the criminal.Deterrence is defined as "the attempt to discourage criminality through the use of punishment." (Macionis, 2006). The idea of deterrence is based on the eighteenth-century Enlightenment idea that as calculating and rational creatures, humans will not break the law if they think that the pains of punishment outweigh the pleasures of crime. (Macionis, 2006) This type of punishment is based on the concept that relies on making the punishment for criminal actions known publicly before the person becomes involved in criminal activity. This helps denture the person from participating in a criminal act because they will fear the punishment associated with the crime, and will help denture future criminals because they see an example of the punishment from someone who has committed the crime.Rehabilitation according to Macionis (2006), is a program for reforming the offender to prevent later offenses. The Idea that deviant behavior was a factor of nurturing and that individuals could be taught appropriate behavior. An example of how society has changed their way of thinking from punishment to rehabilitation...

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