Purpose of Punishment Approaches

Satisfactory Essays
Feinburg (1994, cited in: Easton, 2012: 4) says that punishment is “a symbolic way of getting back at the criminal, of expressing a kind of vindictive resentment”. When punishing an offender there are two key principles that determine the kind of punishment. These are the Retributivism response and the Reductivist response. The first principle, Retributivism, focuses on punishing the offence using 'denunciation' where they denounce the crime that has been committed so society knows they have done wrong, and it also uses 'just deserts' where the equity 'eye for an eye' is the main idea. The second principle, Reductivism, believes that deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation is the best strategy to use to punish, its aim is to reduce crime and use punishment to serve a purpose. This essay will look closer and outline the purpose of just deserts and deterrence as punishment in society, although these punishments are used widely across most crimes, this essay will look specifically at prolific offenders.

Emile Durkheims theory of collective consciousness is that everybody in society has common beliefs and sentiments, and to think or act differently would be a moral outrage against that. So crime is inevitable, there will always be people who think differently to others in an organic solidarity society.
In the 17th and 18th century, the purpose of punishment in society was to seek revenge and retribution for the crimes, however, in the 18th century classicist criminology thinking emerged in response to the cruel punishments that were handed out. The two key leaders of this was Beccaria and Bentham, both of which were utilitarian, so believed the reductivist approach to punishment would be the most effective. Beccaria argued that the purpose of punishment was to make society associate a strong link between the crime and punishment so they knew the consequences of their actions (Easten, S. and Piper, C,. 2012), he argued this could be done by delivering the punishment as quickly as possible and believed that the certainty of punishment in society would be the most effective way of deterrence (Newburn, T. 2007). The other key leader Bentham, argued that the purpose of punishment should be to show people that the cost of the crime outweighs the gains of it, he was a supporter of the use of prisons and thought that punishment should be proportionate to the crime and have predictable, certain consequences to deter people from future offences.

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