Theories of Punishment



These will include retribution, deterrence, social control theory, humanitarian theory, contract theory, benefits and burdens theory, victim-oriented theory, rehabilitation, expression theories as well as just deserts theory. Introduction Punishment is an institution but not actions. It entails certain standards of conducts and involves an authoritative process aimed at generating these standards of conduct. In addition, punishment entails an authoritative process of resolutions to enforce sanctions, and certain aspects of practical control over resources of particular persons. Moreover, punishment does not necessarily entail imposing harm on someone who has committed a crime. It goes beyond the mere inflicting of harm to include an assertion to a particular kind of institutional authority, even when the family is such an institution. To impose punishment on an individual entails asserting assert a right and recognizing a compulsion to punish anyone likewise circumstanced and behaved, even though that other individual were only a sibling. In addition, punishment is never the secluded act of a person, rather, it entails acting an officer or agent taking part in a system for implementing an authoritatively propagated standard (Binder, 2002). Several theories offer the moral justification of punishment. In this regard, there are heated debates entailing different ways of describing the moral standpoint of punishment. The problem of how and when the state should impose punishment on an individual turns to the question of how and when certain individuals should punish other individuals (Binder, 2002). The contemporary debate of theories of punishment circulates utterly around two differing positions of the punishment theory. On one hand is the assertion of retribution, which deems that punishment to an individual should only occur when it is evident that the person concerned warrants to undergo suffering for the damage he inflicted. On the other hand, the other position is the deterrence of utilitarian assertion, which deems that punishing an offender is significant since it helps to prevent prospective crimes in the society. This means that punishing a criminal would deter future crimes. The former assertion takes offenders separately, in that it centers on the ethical standing of the individual offender in relation to his act. Conversely, the latter conceals the individual in goodwill of the society and establishes the legality of the decision to in relation to its social welfare effects (Finkelstein, 2011). Utilitarianism and punishment The principle of utilitarianism in the concept of punishment asserts that the judgment of communal or social aspects ought to occur with regard to the extent to which they advance collective satisfaction. In addition, the theory asserts that there should be consideration of the fulfillments and displeasures that a particular course of action generates in each affected individual. The suitable policy is that which prompts fulfillment, in view of the number of affected individuals. In addition, this policy will depend on both the concentration and extent of fulfillment or displeasure for each individual. In addition, the proponents of this principle assert that the determination of the justification and use of punishment should occur in line with the principle of utility. This principle also asserts that punishment is an evil since it inflicts harm or displeasure to those punished. In this regard, the principle claims that the imposition of punishment should only occur when it is evident that it can bring about other greater fulfillments (Hirsch, 1992). Despite its strong assertion, the utilitarian theory