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Today’s criminal system has four justifications for punishment; these justifications for punishment are Retribution, Deterrence, Rehabilitation, and Social Protection. Retribution: “an act of moral vengeance by which society makes the offender suffer as much as the suffering caused by the crime,” Deterrence: “the attempt to discourage criminality through the use of punishment,” Rehabilitation: “a program for reforming the offender to prevent later offenses,” and Social Protection: “rendering an offender incapable of further offenses temporarily by imprisonment or permanently by execution”. The following paragraphs will explain each in further detail and address the history of each justification. Near the end an explanation as to the effectiveness of these justifications on society will be given.

    Retribution being one of the first forms of punishment referring back to the bible even with the words “an eye for an eye” is where we will begin. This type of justification for punishment is the oldest of the four ways. Crime since the middle ages was considered an offense against not only society but God as well and that is upset the natural order of society as a whole. So it was the belief that punishment should reflect the crime being equal in harshness. One example of how retribution was used is Jeffery Dahmer’s punishment for the conviction and 15 confirmed murders throughout the course of his life. Dahmer was sentenced to 15 life sentences totaling 937 years imprisonment. This of course did nothing to make the offender a better member of society; however it is still popular today as a means of punishment.

   Deterrence is the attempt to discourage crime by punishment. Deterrence came about in the eighteenth century when society deemed that anyone capable of rational though would clearly not commit a crime if they knew that the punishment for said crime would outweigh any of the benefits of committing said crime. In other words they would not be dumb...
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