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Punishment Essay

1874 words - 8 pages

Punishment:When a crime is committed many may wonder why it happened, but most everyone believes that the person that committed the crime should be punished. The concept of justification for punishment is to deter deviant behavior. Retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation and societal protection are the four justifications for punishment currently used in today's society. These four forms of punishment are used in today's society in an attempt deter criminal activity and to lower crime rates. Research of the four justifications of punishment will reveal which type of punishment deters crime most effectively as well as if the consequences of punishment provide any benefit for criminals and ...view middle of the document...

Givens M. (1992) points out a noteworthy disadvantage to retribution… Capital punishment is irreversible and a person that has been wrongfully judged and put to death can not be brought back to life.The second justification for punishment is deterrence. Macionis, J. (2006) defines deterrence as "the attempt to discourage criminality through the use of punishment". The idea of deterrence as justification for punishment came about in the eighteenth-century as a reform to the unsympathetic punishments based on retribution. Deterrence is based on the concept that relies on making the punishment for criminal actions publicly known before a person becomes involved in criminal any activity. According to Macionis, J. (2006)… "Humans will not break the law if they think that the pains of punishment outweigh the pleasures of crime". Deterrence implements milder forms of punishment such as imprisonment rather than death or mutilation. Punishment is thought to deter crime in two ways. Specific deterrence is used to encourage criminals to realize that the consequence of criminal activities is not worth the impending punishment. General deterrence is a more direct approach to discouraging criminal activity through providing an example of the punishment of one person.The trial of mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer in Milwaukee is one example of justification of punishment through deterrence. Since Milwaukee does not implement the death penalty as justification of punishment through retribution, "Dahmer, with nothing to lose, fought all-out for acquittal" (Ewegen B., 1994, paragraph 10). The trial was widely exposed on national television. Everyone who watched knows that Dahmer was convicted of 15 confirmed murders. The whole ordeal was very costly to tax payers, but Dahmer finally received 15 life sentences to be served consecutively. According to Ewegen B. (1994)…The Post's editorial suggested a life sentence as an alternative to capital punishment. But in so doing, it ignored the death penalty's greatest value (deterrence) - it lets prosecutors strike plea bargains in which vicious killers agree to a life sentence in return for the prosecution agreeing not to seek a death penalty.Michael Bell, a man who killed four people in Colorado, took advantage of such a plea bargain. Ewegen B. (1994) asserts that…Bell's guilty plea saved taxpayers millions of dollars. More importantly, it spared the families of his victims the renewed trauma of trial and appeal. And since it is virtually impossible to overturn a guilty plea on appeal, it guaranteed Bell would die in prison without ever having another chance to harm society.If Colorado did not have the death penalty Bell could have fought for an acquittal like Dahmer did in Milwaukee which could have cost tax payers millions and dragged the families of his victims through the trauma of trial and appeal.The third justification for punishment is rehabilitation. According to Macionis, J....

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