The Goals of Punishment

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Punishment refers to the penalties or sanctions an individual receives for illicit behavior (Banks, 2013). The intent or outcomes of the actions people choose determine whether the person deserves punishment or not. It is critical that the society establishes moral justification for inflicting punishment on individuals that commit crimes to answer all the questions about this field of study.  This paper describes the goals of punishment in the society. It tries to justify why it is necessary to introduce a punishment.

There are many reasons why punishment is necessary; however, one of the most vivid reasons is to purge the criminal of his guilt (Banks, 2013). Punishment exerts pain on the individuals and makes sure that they get what they deserve. Punishing the individual prevents him/her from benefiting from the crime. Punishment also seeks to exact retribution to the offender. The punishment an individual receives for a crime is proportional to the type of crime the individual commits. Exerting punishment on an offender prevents him/her from enjoying or benefiting from the action as such the victim does not carry out revenge for the action. At times, it is impossible for a victim to restitute an offence, and if possible it is not wise. Therefore, the punishment of the offender provides the victim some form of relief (Gill, 2003). There is also a moral link between punishment and guilt. Punishment offers atonement that cancels out the offences inflicted on another person (Banks, 2013).

The society can also use punishment as a preventive tool that deters others from committing the same action (Duff, 2003). The utilitarian approach dictates that people make decisions or act based on consequences (Duff, 2003). Pain and pleasure are primordial determinants of human action. They propel the course of action a person takes. Punishment inflicts pain on people as such it reminds people that the justice system exists to ensure that people take full responsibility for their actions. There are two forms of deterrence due to punishment that is general deterrence and individual deterrence (Gill, 2003). Individual deterrence involves preventing and the offender from committing the same crime again. The individual receives punishment that sparks a painful experience that compels him/her not to commit the same action. General deterrence involves the presence of penalties that prevent people from acting in particular ways. People will make the correct decisions and carry out actions that do not have any form of repercussions since they do not want to experience the same outcome as the felons (Duff, 2003).

Punishment also seeks to offer rehabilitation to the offenders.  Punishment offers reformative attributes since its outcomes change the values and principles of the felon preventing them from committing similar actions (Duff, 2003). The criminal can abstain from performing similar acts due to fear of receiving the same punishment or he/she can have a change of heart after receiving the punishment. Punishment should have a reformative effect that changes the values of the offender such that they do not consider carrying out the offence again. Crime committed by people is a social disease; therefore punishment offers a remedy. The approach does not consider the relation between punishment and guilt instead it offers a different perspective to punishment that is a reformation of the criminal. Since people act on choices, they make punishment ensures that these choices do not lead to inappropriate actions (Leighton& Reiman, 2001).

Punishment also offers incapacitation that is separating the offenders from the society as such preventing further harm to the members of the society (Duff, 2003). The approach offers better solutions to the tribulation of crime in society regardless of other options such as reformation and deterrence. Incapacitation presents better preventive measures of crime in society since it offers both deterrence and opportunities for rehabilitation. People will choose to do the correct decisions to prevent getting excluded from the society. Also, exclusion from the society provides the person an opportunity to meditate on the actions prior to the punishment (Leighton& Reiman, 2001).

Punishment also seeks to offer restorative justice to the society. It brings back the sense of security in the society (Banks, 2013). Punishment offers the members of the society relief that people will not commit crimes since it deters committing offenses. It also restores security through the feeling of retribution that a victim accrues when the offender gets punished. The restorative function of punishment dictates that justice requires healing of all the stakeholders associated with the crime. It also stipulates that all parties are liable to involving themselves in the justice process (Leighton& Reiman, 2001).


Punishment is an inevitable course of action that the society must uphold to ensure that it streamlines the behavior of its members and also maintains harmony. Punishment of individuals in the society should be proportionate to the crime committed. The ultimate objective of punishment should be to ensure that the members of the society make the correct decisions and execute proper actions.


Banks, C., (2013). Criminal justice ethics: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Duff, A., (2003). Punishment, communication, and community. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Gill, E., (2003).  Seld-determination as a goal of correctional counseling: A philosophical explanation of the moral benefit of rehabilitative punishment to criminal offenders. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Leighton, P., & Reiman, H. (2001). Criminal justice ethics. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in nursing essay writing service services. If you need a similar paper you can place your order from research paper services.

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