Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime And Punishment

869 Words4 Pages
What is the ideal purpose of punishing criminals, how do we know when punishment has been adequately served, what would be an appropriate, morally justifiable punishment for Raskolnikov, and why? Elbert Hubbard said, "We are punished by our sins, not for them." Prince Machiavelli created the Machiavellian code where he stated the "Eye for an eye" principle. What is the purpose of punishment? Why does human kind feel it necessary to punish wrong-doers? Hubbard believed that punishment is not necessary in order to reform criminals, yet Machiavelli believed in bringing to justice all who broke the law. The purpose of punishment is to reform the ways of criminals, and the punishment is adequately served when the criminal is truly reformed. A wrong-doer must be brought to justice. This statement is the founding belief of every legal system ever created, but does justice necessarily mean punishment? Justice is fairness in the way people are treated. Punishment is the penalty for doing something wrong. Using these definitions of the words justice and punishment, then Machiavelli's model of an eye for an eye seems to make sense. In order to justify a murder then you have to take the murderers life. In order to bring justice to someone who stole one hundred dollars you must take one hundred dollars from the lawbreaker. The purpose of punishment is to justify the delinquent's crimes. This brings about a very contradictory thought in human psychology. As little children we are taught that two wrong do not make a right, yet in our society, punishment goes against this fundamental rule. The question of bringing justice to a criminal through Machiavellian punishment needs to be reviewed because of this paradox that arises in human thought. Hubbard disagreed with Machiavelli and said that, "We are punished by our sins, not for them." Guilt of the sins committed punishes the criminal. Depending on how heinous the crime was a different level of guilt will be forced on the crook. If he steals a candy bar he will feel slight remorse, but probably not enough to keep him from doing it again. If murder was committed, like in the case of Raskolnikov, then the guilt is so great that it drives the man insane. The American legal system utilizes both these ideas. When a man steals a candy bar and is caught he is forced to repay the store owner for everything he stole.
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