Punishment Philosophy



Without any doubt, in the 21st-century humans have faced a big problem commonly known as the application of punishment as a vital method of offender correction. Nowadays, a constant drift from the correctness of felons is clearly seen, since the level of crime is considerably increased. Humans and policemen are always eager to know what has a significant impact on the deterioration of the legal system. The answer is distinctly apprehended: it is an absolute disregard of basic principles of criminals’ rehabilitation and violation of norms of punishment. Moreover, the primary goal of punishment as an effective means of threatening potential offenders did not adhere. Stark reality indicates that humans need adopt fully-fledged legal methods to re-establish and improve social order. In this case, a philosophical reflection of punishment has significantly ameliorated current approaches to the understanding of punishment as an efficient policy of crime reduction. According to the definition, punishment includes the deliberate imposition of an appropriate penalty to those who perform an offense or commits a grave transgression. Most people consider punishment as an illegal act against offenders; however, it is not right since punishment requires moral as well as legal and political legitimate nature. According to Hart (1968), “Punishment is a serious offense against the legal system and should be managed by an authority or an authorized person constituted by a legal system against which the crime was committed” (p. 5). Thus, punishment is applied against whose people who perform a crime and broke the law.

Various Social-Control Functions

Indisputably, punishment has various social-control functions; however, in most cases, it is legalized on the principles of retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and vengeance. Regarding the retributive theory, humans are enough capable and intelligent of taking rational decisions. In this case, a person who is suffering from a mental disorder cannot be punished. However, a person who deliberately transgresses the law should be punished. In this case, wrongdoers should get an appropriate punishment according to the level of crime committed.

Principle of retribution

The retribution philosophy of crime requires the principle of equality and considers the concept of “lex stallions” (an eye for an eye) as the most vital doctrine. The principle of equality was firstly distinguished by Immanuel Kant, who pointed out that everyone who commits a serious crime should bear responsibilities and get punishment which he/she deserves. By performing a crime, the scale of justice can be considerably disturbed, thus, it is important to inflict the deserved suffering on criminals. According to Kant (1972), “The degree of offender’s suffering highly depends on his/her perpetration of a crime” (p. 104). Consequently, the Kantian theory requires the principle of retaliation, which is grounded in the principle of “lex stallions” (an eye for an eye or life for life).

Deterrence theory

The deterrence theory was developed by Jeremy Bentham, an English utilitarian philosopher in 1780. According to the deterrence theory, the consequences of punishment play a more important role compared to the instant contentment to victims of offenses and others. Thus, deterrence is a vital tool of punishment that creates various phobias in criminals for future punishment. It is generally true that most of the murders will reflect twice if they know that their life is under constant danger and death. Nowadays, deterrence punishment is used in the Islamic states that have fixed their penal policies employing deterrence. For instance, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the USA have adopted the death penalty as an efficient method of deterrence model.

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Incapacitation theory

The theory of incapacitation was firstly employed in the USA to protect this country against any possible foreseeable danger. In recent history, it is known about different terrorist acts, thus, incapacitation can be adopted to establish effective methods of punishment for long-term issues.

The vitality of Implementation of Rehabilitation

The vitality of implementation of rehabilitation can be seen in the treatment of the criminals. It is evident that all offenders are to some extent “mentally sick” and need to get an effective medical and psychological cure. In this case, rehabilitation focuses on the treatment and education of offenders. In the 20th century, scientists developed various medical approaches, such as behavioral modification and psychoanalysis that considerably improved the measures and conditions of sentencing. Moreover, with the advent of “correctional” institutions, there were employed different methods of treatment. For example, anger management, drug, and alcohol treatment, phobia treatment, and job training. Consequently, rehabilitation facilitates the mental recovery of the felons and suppresses a desire to commit a crime.

Vengeance Theory

The vengeance theory of punishment is based on the deliberate desire for revenge. In this case, the concept of retaliation makes this theory completely different from the retributive theory. Furthermore, the vengeance theory consists of three categories, such as social, hedonistic, and emotional category. The social category emphasizes the adoption of punishment that can totally control the burst of anger and rage amidst criminals. Concerning the hedonistic category, it is meant punishment that provides the victims or their families with the pleasure of contemplating a suffering offender. Finally, the emotional category ensures a justified punishment that helps freely express own emotions, hatred, feelings, and anger toward the felon.

In the framework of identifying the importance of punishment philosophy, it is highly recommended to analyze its three main correction models, which are the justice model, medical model, and custodial model, since they help to prevent future crimes and decrease the level of crime in the world. First of all, the justice model requires the application of punishment for those who break the law and pose a constant danger to social life. Moreover, this model eliminates the probability of parole. Thus, it significantly reduces the disparity of sentencing. Additionally, the justice model considers the ideas of fairness and equality as the most important principles of a legal system. Secondly, the vitality of the medical model can be seen in the implementation of rehabilitation of all offenders. In this case, active legislation is responsible for the data collecting about the physical and mental condition of the criminals, their genetic diseases, and physic incentives that dramatically influenced offenders’ health. Furthermore, medical workers should provide professional diagnoses, adopt effective treatment, and make a prediction about felon’s future behavior. Finally, the custodial model requires deep control of those who can commit a crime. By implementing this model of punishment, law enforcement is allowed to punish the offenders who do not want to comply. However, by adopting the custodial model, the policemen should strictly adhere to humanistic values. The custodial model can be identified as the threes C’s model of corrections, such as “care, control, and custody.” This model highly encourages the government to increase the overall strength of police forces, ameliorate the adoption of discretion, and build more prisons.

All in all, the 21st century indicates the new level of social development in which the justice system should highly provide the most effective ways of spreading the law and reducing crime rates. Undoubtedly, punishment philosophy helps to analyze the most effective concepts and models of reducing crime rates. Unfortunately, the justice system has considerably deteriorated during the last thirty years. In this case, the justice system should develop a fully-fledged law system to serve the main purposes of the adoption of punishment and to make sure that the rightly accused felon is condemned.

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