Does Punishment Deter Crime?
Kylon D. Shipp
SOC 120 Week 6 Checkpoint
University of Phoenix
A question that all criminal justice professionals ask themselves is whether or not our justice system is up to the challenge of doing what it originally set out to do: “protect society from criminals, to punish those who commit crimes, and to make criminals better able to return to society once they have finished their sentences” (Topsfield Foundation, 1996). Although the American system of justice has made great advancements in meeting these goals, one fact that exists is that placing criminals in prison does not benefit everyone. There are five goals of contemporary sentencing, and before we can discuss the ways in which placing criminals in prisons are not beneficial, we must understand these goals. Retribution is the sentencing goal that seeks revenge on a criminal. It corresponds to the “just deserts” model of sentencing due to the fact that it deems offenders responsible for their crimes. When an offender is punished under this model, they are said to have received their “just deserts” (Schmalleger, 2005). Imprisonment is the primary sentencing goal of this model. Yet, capital punishment has resulted in the ultimate retribution in more serious cases. Incapacitation seeks to protect society from dangerous criminals. Incapacitation differs from retribution in the sense that it only requires restraint and not punishment. Deterrence, also involves specific deterrence and general deterrence, and uses the “threat of punishment” to “inhibit criminal behavior” (Schmalleger, 2005). This goal goes hand in hand with incapacitation due to the fact that “specific deterrence can be achieved through incapacitating offenders” (Schmalleger, 2005). Rehabilitation, like deterrence, tries to decrease the number of criminal offenses. However, while deterrence builds on fear, rehabilitation works by educating criminals and promoting change within
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