Examine the Key Ideas Associated with Law and Punishment

Topics: Crime, Law, Criminal justice Pages: 5 (1930 words) Published: March 27, 2013
Examine the key ideas associated with law and punishment

Law and Punishment go hand in hand. There are Laws, which are the system of rules which a particular country or community recognises as regulating the actions of followers, and there are punishments, for when a member of said country/community breaks the rules. Punishment is defined as the infliction of a penalty or to cause pain for an offence. Most of the time it is not a choice as to whether you are part of a law-following community because almost all countries in the world have some kind of law-system and often the minute you turn the age where you are legally responsible or step off the boat, plane or train you are subjected to their laws.

The Biblical views on punishment have often been based on the old testament teaching ‘an eye for an eye’. The bible also lays out punishments for certain crimes that appear to follow this teaching. Except that there are many punishments in the bible that seem to be out of proportion to the crime e.g. “whoever curses his father or his mother will be put to death”. There are many problems with this statement for example it does not state how old the son/daughter has to be to deserve this punishment, it seems to imply even a 4 year old who does not necessarily know what they are saying can be put to death for cursing their parents. An eye for an eye is also relevant in today’s laws, it is the basis of retributive justice that is present in our society. Retributive justice is the idea that those who have done the crime should somehow pay back for what they did. Rachel’s said “People deserve to be treated in the same way that they have (voluntarily treated others)” This seems like a fair way of treating someone because why someone should be allowed to do one thing and then not expect to be treated in the same way? But some punishments that are retributive e.g. capital punishment do not seem to benefit society and there is a risk of the punishment becoming revengeful not retributive. Retributive justice also causes a problem because it might make capital punishment a legitimate approach to punishment. I.e. If a person murders it is right for them to be killed. And It also can lead the legal system to instead of appearing like someone is being made to pay back what they have done wrong to looking like the legal system is being hypocritical i.e. we are showing society that it is wrong to be violent by being violent to wrong doers. This is not how we should be teaching people to not be violent. The punishment also must not be disproportionate to the crime e.g. sentencing a small child to death for stealing a sweet from a shop. Some forms of punishment e.g. fines may be disproportionate because to people with money a fine does not make any difference but to someone who has just enough money or just below the money they need for necessities it can be a massive problem, but on average I think retributive measures helps to make the punishment be proportionate to the crime because the person can be treated the way they treated others.

Deterrence is another form of punishment. It means that we should punish for crimes in order to deter others from committing the same crime i.e. if we know what the punishment for an act is we are less inclined to do it. However there are problems with this because it assumes that the perpetrator had intent and full knowledge of what they were doing was wrong but often violent crimes happen in the heat of the moment and are not planned and those violent crimes that are calculated are often done by those people who are mentally ill. Also, why should be punish someone for the sake of someone else?

Reformative justice is becoming more popular in today’s society and is the attempt to turn the criminal into a normal law abiding citizen. It is often based on the idea that everyone has an intrinsic value simply because they are human and the improvement of humans is good. According to deontology this is...
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