Crime And Punishment Essay

1451 words - 6 pages



FEBRUARY 11, 2011


SOC 120



Most Americans in our country have been affected by crime either personally or have a close loved one who has been affected. Our politicians and government have tried to set standards to either deter crime from happening or adequately punish those who choose to commit crimes. Examining if the types of punishment imposed are effective in preventing repeat offenders or deterring a certain crime is a true reflection upon if our justice system is meeting its goals.

Retribution is perhaps society’s oldest ...view middle of the document...

" (Martin, 2005).

Societal retribution pertains to taking an individual out of society and placing them into the prison system. This punishment is based on giving the inmate harsh living conditions, little contact with the outside society and an extremely structured environment. This may also include rehabilitation or counseling.

For the medium to long term prisoner, this situation makes an inmate lose hope of ever returning to society. People in the prison population often quickly adapt to a new social setting becoming more like the other inmates so they can feel accepted and become a part of their new "society". The exposure to serious violence on a daily basis, and alleged abuse by guards inevitably changes their perspective on society. They often start to resent the society that punished them and sent them to prison. (Reiman, 1998). This is why many inmates seem to lead the same life of crime even after being released. They no longer can function in the society outside of prison.

In America it seems most of the prison population go on to re-offend after release. Recidivism rates in the United States are approximately 67%. This rate refers to those who are re-arrested within three years of being released from prison.

It is difficult to know if deterrence works in America. Since the punishment instilled on others may deter offenders we really can't tell how well this works as no crime was committed or reported. The assumed offender had deemed the crime not worth the punishment before ever violating the law.

There are however three major deterrents to crime they are: societal disapproval, incarceration or capital punishment.

Societal disapproval is an effective deterrent to minor crimes such as misdemeanors. It is believed that most criminals start off small and then commit more serious crimes such as felonies, and this belief may deter those who fear societal disapproval and therefore be somewhat effective as a deterrent.

Criminal acts carried out in the heat of the moment are not likely to be prevented by the principle of deterrence. The effectiveness of deterrence as a crime prevention tool has two significant factors – the probability of being caught, and the severity of the punishment eventually handed down. Though pre-meditated crimes may give the possible offender more time to think of the consequences and decide not to commit the crime as planned.

More than half of violent crime reports are unresolved. In other words, the chances of getting caught are quite low. Rates of recidivism, as we have noted, are high, which suggests that imprisonment is not a significant deterrent either.

It is tempting to conclude that deterrence is not particularly effective preventive strategy and also not preventing repeat offenders.

We could consider crime as relating to one's social status or background. Can social issues such as poverty, poor housing, lack of...

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