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Criminal Justice Theories of Punishment

Updated on November 17, 2010


Deterrence is all about fear and being discouraged from committing crimes. (Cliffs Notes 2010) Psycologists and sociologists alike have been skeptical and believe that the theory that people won't commit crimes for fear of being caught and or sent to jail is ridiculous. Society has come to believe that within the justice system, deterrence is mild because in today's world, criminals are becoming more and more savvy and often think about how they can get away with a crime before they commit the crime.

Its been said that incapcitation is the key to protecting members of society and to a certain effect, its true. Criminals behind bars can't hurt members within society, but then again, how in the world does someone who is locked up behind bars cause so much harm to members outside in the world. Some say that its because even though someone is in prison, they still have rights and privileges and can make certain phone calls and send out threats to members in society or have their own family do their dirty work. This is true and apparently it happens. Incapcitation works, but lets be truthful or at least realistic. For every criminal behind bars, there are probably twenty or thirty running around within society. Also, look at the financial aspect of building and operating a prison as well as the psychological effects on the criminals family and friends.

Rehabilitation deals with well, the word itself. Rehab. It's all about redistributing and altering behavior of a criminal through drug therapy and or regular therap.(Cliffs Notes 2010) Its' about reintroducing criminals into society so that they won't be prone to their past. Many people, often the victims of the criminals and victims advocates are apposed to rehabiliation in some aspects, especially in cases that the victim was a child. I tend to believe that everyone has the ability to change, but only if they truly want to. But I myself have never been the victim of a crime so its harder for me to see where the victim may be coming from. Also, I think the nature of the crime plays a major role in my level of thinking. I also think that some criminals shouldn't have any rights based on the things they have done but our justice system doesn't work that way.

Retribution is by far the most controversial aspect of criminal justice. Many people, and once again, this is usually the victim, or victim advocates where they don't feel that the punishment fits the crime. (Cliffs Notes 2010) Eye for an eye. In all actuality, its rather difficult and sometimes inhumane to match the punishment with the crime. If you ask me, I think some criminals should never be released from prison based on their crimes. I can't say that I am for the death penalty because so many people have been wrongfully executed and later we find out that DNA evidence cleared them.

In my opinion, the criminal justice system seems to focus more on inconpacitation. At first I was going to say rehabilitation but no, inconpacitation is the one they go for. I think in today's society, victims want their justice and usually, the only justice they think is justifiable is when the criminal is behind bars. Sure you hear about lawyers and prosecutors trying to make deal after deal in exchange for something else, but the bottom line seems to be about putting someone behind bars. Also, I think the nature of the crime itself is also a major factor when it comes to retribution.

The purpose of the criminal justice system is to determine whether or not somenoe is guilty of a crime. When it comes to morality and efficacy implications, its all about the procedures within the system. Everyone has rights and privileges when they are accused of a crime. (Albaense 2006) This means that everyone is to be treated innocent. The morality comes in when it seems that within the justice system, criminals that commit the same crimes are not getting the punishments.

If society wants to prevent crime and deter criminals, I think it all begins with education and most likely with parenting. Thats about all society can do at this point. Educating our youth because they are the future. Teach them about life's hardships and life lessons at a young age instead of providing them with everything they've ever wanted just because you the parent didn't get that from your parents. I hate watchin TV shows where they have teenager characters that cannot cook, clean, do laundry, or work. Then, they go off into the world with no skills becaus etheir parents did everything for them. This really happens in society and perhaps it does start with the parents. We hear about bullying everyday and parents assume its just childs play, psychologically scarred children do not always grow up to upstanding citizens in society.

References Theories of Punishment. 17 Nov 2010,articleId-10039.html

Albanese, Jay S. (2006). Professional ethics in criminal justice (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson, Allyn and Bacon


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    • munirahmadmughal profile image


      7 years ago from Lahore, Pakistan.

      "Criminal Justice-Theories of Punishment"

      It is an informative hub.

      The analysis of the causes has been correctly made. The first thing is the domestic atmosphere. Then the teaching institutions. Then the friends and relatives. Then the profession and dealings in the society. Then the law and the rules and regulations. Then the actual practice. Then the result of the law application. All are inteconnected. In all societies experiences are going on to improve the lot of the society whereby deviance is controlled. In doing so imbalance occurs and results become havoc.

      Respect for the rights is very valuable. Law aims that. The abuse, misuse, non use, over use, under use cause the trouble and bad results.

      Education lacking discipline is bad. Discipline without education is worse. Neither education nor discipline is the worst.

      To observe patience and forgive is a great blessing and it comes to the lot of rare.

      General course is reward and punishment. The evidence plays the vital role. Here comes in the slippery ways. Truthfulness and accuracy are needed at every step.

      The aggrieved person must be compensated of his or her loss to his satisfaction. Where lies the fault needs constatn search, research and re-research by the members of the society. Freedom of choice is not unbridled. Tit for tat keeps the over free within its sphere. But there may be many hidden and real other factors that require mitigation in teh sentence and those cannot be ignored on all just and fair principles. Exaggeration may be on either side or on both sides. Here comes the role of the administration of justice. All fields of knowledge have their role in controlling the deviation.

      May God Alimighty bless all.


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