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Assignment: Punishment Research Paper

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Assignment: Punishment Research Paper

Hannah Jackson

SOC/120

From the early history of civilization crime has existed and for centuries societies have established laws meant to protect it’s citizens from crime. Such laws have been continuously enforced in an effort to maintain order. Punishment has been in place for those who act in what society has set out as devious acts. In the United States, acts of deviant behavior has been a social issued surrounded with controversy. Punishments for those who have been found guilty of devious behavior are dealt with within four types of punishment: retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and societal protection. These four forms of punishment are what the American society use in an attempt to cease crime. Justification is required for the practice of punishment within the United States. Often times this justification is imposing some form of harm to those who break the law, however the truth behind punishment is not if it should hurt the individual, but rather if the justification of the punishment makes sense for the crime. Take for instance the kidnapping, rape and murder of college student Dru Sjodin caused by Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. Six months prior to this crime Rodriguez had been released from a 23 year prison sentence for a stabbing and attempted rape, and had previously to that crime pled guilty to a rape. Because Dru was kidnapped in North Dakota and brought to Minnesota where her body was later found this crime was dealt with on a federal level. Both ND and MN are no death penalty states, however since the case was turned over to the US government, and the punishment given for this crime was the death penalty. In these types of situations society expects the criminal justice system to punish the offender to the maximum extent of the law. The questions then become -what is the proper punishment for this crime and who has the right to impose the punishment? This; however imposes societies questions about moral and ethical issues regarding discrimination and equality. A form of punishment well known by society is retribution. Retribution being the oldest for of justification is defined as an act of moral vengeance in which societies form of punishment makes the offender suffers as much as the suffering caused by the crime. Retribution rests on a view of society as being in moral balance. When criminality upsets this balance, punishment in equal measure restores the moral order, as suggested by the biblical saying, “an eye for an eye” (Macionis, 2006). The element of justice – retribution, stands by the people in society who abide by the law and punish those who deviate. This form of punishment as it is believed does not seek to reduce crime or deviant behavior, and it is presumed that this act of punishment does little in regards to reforming the offender. On the other hand, opposition argues retribution punishes to the extent that the criminal becomes restored back into the moral order of society, although societies still consider vengeance as enough reason for punishment. When a crime such as murder is committed, our justice system rationalizes this with the possible punishment of the death sentence. It is important to keep the moral order of society while making it understood that the offender receives the punishment most fitting for the crime. Deterrence, a punishment known as a form of prevention is defined as “the attempt to discourage criminality through the use of punishment” (Macionis, 2006). From the eighteenth century on, it has been believed by society that individuals are fully capable of rational thoughts and would not behave in a defiant way knowing that the burden of punishment would greatly outweigh the pleasure of committing the crime. In an effort to reduce harsher punishments such as the death penalty, deterrence emerged as a means of reform. The approach of deterrence aims to discourage an individual from committing further crimes by creating an unfavorable punishment for the crime. “While general deterrence strategies focus on future behaviors, specific deterrence focuses on the punishment of an identified deviant in an attempt to prevent him or her from repeating a crime violating the particular norms they have broken” (Keel, 2005 Para 6). Deterrent punishment is justified in various cases; however it is specifically used in capital punishment – death penalty cases. When a crime such as murder is committed and the charges are a capital punishment case, there is no means of reform for the offender making deterrence a justified example to discourage other offenders from committing the same crime. Rehabilitation as punishment is defined as “a program for reforming the offender to prevent later offenses” (Macionis, 2006). Rehabilitation programs are imposed by criminal courts in the hopes of reforming offenders and motivating them to conform. Rehabilitation programs provide specific services such as drug and alcohol treatment centers. Other forms of rehabilitation programs include community service and probation, which are used as an approach to assist the offender in minor cases of deviant behavior such as anger management and therapy. “When an individual is sentenced to probation, it gives them the opportunity to remain self-supporting within the community and not using the taxpayer and states money to house them in a correctional facility” (Larrabee, 2006, Para. 2). Societal protection is a form of punishment defined as “rendering an offender incapable of further offenses temporarily through imprisonment or permanently by execution” (Macionis, 2006). Similar to deterrent punishment, societal protection is a modern and rational punishment used to protect society from violent offenders. Societal protection has however caused the number of incarcerated offenders to rise in the United States. Due to the high rate of this form of punishment and tougher laws, there are over 2 million people in prisons across the United States. The justifications of the four forms of punishment have similar characteristics. Each form has a different approach, but all involve similar goals. The effect of each punishment consists of retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation to some extent. Furthermore, if some members of society believe the rehabilitation and deterrence are unreasonable; when imposing a penalty, the only practical form of punishment is retribution (Paolo, 2001). Determining the punishment which best deters crime in an effective way may differ by who you ask. “Despite record levels of incarceration and the role that incarceration plays in criminal activity, there does not exist a sound knowledge base about the extent incarceration exhibits deterrent or null effects on subsequent individual offending trajectories” (Bhati and Piquero, 2007, Para 1). Punishment in an infliction of unpleasant circumstances, and which punishment will be most effective is a matter of what type of crime was committed. The best way to attempt to the best punishment is to give the punishment best fitting to crime so that is can have the possibility of allowing the criminal to learn from their mistakes. “If society chooses for revenge there will be a steady growth in crime. If society wants to reduce crime, it must change the laws. Society must tolerate many other conducts because intolerance results in hundreds of offenses” (Frazer, 2008, Para 38). Benefits of punishment vary, none of which have been proven to put a stop to criminal behavior. Criminals who are released back into society after serving out a term of punishment have already acquired criminalist behaviors, which can make it harder for them to blend back into society if they don’t have the proper support system. Punishment in the United States has been established in an effort to deter deviant behaviors. Even with laws in place and known punishments for those crimes, it doesn’t fully stop people from breaking the laws. With that said, the question of why anyone would break laws or be allowed to get away with them without proper punishment remains. The people in society know that punishment is a form of knowing the difference between right and wrong and teaching that is a good start to curbing crime.

References
Bhati, A. S., & Piquero, A R (Fall 2007). Estimating the Impact of Incarceration on Subsequent Offending Trajectories: Deterrent, Criminogenic, or Null Effect?. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 98, 1. p.207(47). Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=a2008507-ff3c-4631-98bd-9bed9b2c47a3%40sessionmgr113&vid=3&hid=121 Macionis, J. J. (2006). Society: The basics (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall
Paolo, Stella (2001). The Purpose and Effects of Punishment. European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p56-68, 13p, Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=83a73595-831f-4417-86b4-0a1840b9b01c%40sessionmgr113&vid=8&hid=121
(Larrabee A K 20061128 Punishment vs Rehabilitation in the Criminal Justice System)Larrabee, A. K. (2006, November 28). Punishment vs. Rehabilitation in the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/89124/punishment_vs_rehabilitation_in_the.html?page=2&cat=17
(Keel R 20050714 Evolution of Classical Theory: Rational Choice, Deterrence, Incapacitation and Just Desert)Keel , R. (2005, July 14). The Evolution of Classical Theory: Rational Choice, Deterrence, Incapacitation and Just Desert. Retrieved from http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/200/ratchoc.html

References: Bhati, A. S., & Piquero, A R (Fall 2007). Estimating the Impact of Incarceration on Subsequent Offending Trajectories: Deterrent, Criminogenic, or Null Effect?. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 98, 1. p.207(47). Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=a2008507-ff3c-4631-98bd-9bed9b2c47a3%40sessionmgr113&vid=3&hid=121 Macionis, J. J. (2006). Society: The basics (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall Paolo, Stella (2001). The Purpose and Effects of Punishment. European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p56-68, 13p, Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=83a73595-831f-4417-86b4-0a1840b9b01c%40sessionmgr113&vid=8&hid=121 (Larrabee A K 20061128 Punishment vs Rehabilitation in the Criminal Justice System)Larrabee, A. K. (2006, November 28). Punishment vs. Rehabilitation in the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/89124/punishment_vs_rehabilitation_in_the.html?page=2&cat=17 (Keel R 20050714 Evolution of Classical Theory: Rational Choice, Deterrence, Incapacitation and Just Desert)Keel , R. (2005, July 14). The Evolution of Classical Theory: Rational Choice, Deterrence, Incapacitation and Just Desert. Retrieved from http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/200/ratchoc.html

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