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Punishment Research Paper

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Punishment Research Paper
Punishment comes in different forms. Today’s criminal system has four justifications for punishment; these justifications for punishment are Retribution, Deterrence, Rehabilitation, and Social Protection. Rehabilitation is the oldest justification for punishment. Punishment is society’s revenge for a moral wrong. In principle, punishment should be equal in severity to the crime itself. Deterrence is an early modern approach. Crime is considered social disruption, which society acts to control. People are viewed as rational and self-interested; deterrence works because the pain of punishment outweighs the pleasure of crime. Rehabilitation a modern strategy linked to the development of social sciences. Crime and other deviance are viewed as the result of social problems (such as poverty) or personal problems (such as mental illness). Social conditions are improved; treatment is tailored to the offender’s condition. Social Protection is a modern approach easier to carry out than rehabilitation. Even if society is unable or unwilling to rehabilitate offenders or reform social conditions, people are protected by the imprisonment or execution of the offender. The state imposes legal punishment to criminals in different forms and severity with different purpose. It can be a temporary form of punishment such as imprisonment or imposing sorts of fine. It can be a lifelong punishment, such as life imprisonment. At the worst, punishment can be up to the extent of permanently removing the criminal from the society by execution. Though believed to reduce crime in society, punishment is generally seen as quite coercive and burdensome. Whether it is really doing more good than harm to the concerned individuals remain a topic of discussion and criticism. Punishment is known to co-exist with history, without any period which prohibited punishment to the criminals. Since the implementation of punishment, the concept and justifications of punishment is shifting. Early punishments were known to be more brutal than the current punishments. Punishment was used to be perceived as a way to reform and rehabilitate offenders but the modernization of civilization made some deviation from that thought. Many ways of punishments existed including slavery, imprisonment, and capital punishment - as the most controversial one. Retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation and societal protection are the common forms of punishment used until today. Criminal justice in America is an essential part that is needed to uphold the laws of the United States. Within the American criminal justice system there are many parts in which are dedicated to process all crimes. Sentencing for crimes committed of those who have been found guilty in a court of law is an integral part of the system. The fundamental philosophies surrounding the purpose of sentencing are diverse. Some people believe that the purpose of sentencing the guilty will prove justice to society. Others believe in that famous quote "you do the crime, you do the time." Each specific sentencing has its own limitations as well as in connection with the philosophies on how society influences them. Defendants who reach the sentencing stage of the criminal proceedings are those who have not yet completed or escaped the correctional filter. They have either pled guilty to or been found guilty of a crime in a jury or bench trial. The court must now decide how to dispose of them. To make a sentencing decision is often the most complicated and difficult task for the sentencing judge. The judge holds the role of distributing the minimum and maximum sentence to the guilty.
The factors of sentencing that go into the determination of each specific sentence have all been taken into vast consideration. The legislation of this country sets a standard for state level legislatures to compile penal codes which enact that all crimes are taken into consideration to make punitive limitations. Every state has made laws in which sentences are given for each criminal act authorizing judge to have at their disposal. Depending on each individual case, a judge has these guiding principles within his or her jurisdiction to hand down sentences. A judge is allowed to create any sentence only within the set punishments for those crimes. There is a factor in which limits a judge's flexible sentencing terms and that is called determinate. This limiting factor is the workings of legislation where the body of government has set a standard sentence without any bargaining as in capital punishment which involves death or life. In summation of the factors in which how sentencing comes about involves three main phases. Legislation prescribes minimum and maximum punitive measures for crimes; the judicial phase reviews and provides a final judgment within the confines of the law and the administrative phase oversees the time in which a person will be incarcerated or sentenced. The punishment waiting ahead as the consequences of any wrongdoing are made known ahead of time. It is analogous to a threat instilling fear on other individuals thus aims that individuals will try to shift away from doing wrong. Studies showed a decline of crimes as an effect of deterrence but many studies seem to lack credibility on how they were conducted thus the positive effects of deterrence as shown by study results are so far not so conclusive. (Discussion of Recent Deterrence Studies) Rehabilitation aims to actually provide a sort of treatment to offenders. This punishment extended help to some offenders but seems to have no effect to some. Its magnitude in helping to deter crime cannot be determined. One great effect for sure is in terms of state financial matters. For example, records showed that the total corrections expenditure for the fiscal year o 2001 was $29.5 billion (United States Department of Justice, 2004). Societal protection does great favour to the society by segregating the offenders as a way of incapacitation from doing further offences either temporarily by imprisonment or permanently by execution. We know what imprisonment means. It is similar to caging a beast to avoid inflicting subsequent harm to the society. Imprisonment mean, segregating the criminals from the outside society which incapacitates an individual from living a normal outside life. One feels that retribution or deterrence by capital punishment or execution deters crime most effectively. Studies have been conducted on their affectivity in deterring crimes. The results were promising; however, most of the studies were criticized for lack of credibility. Most studies on other forms of punishment also provided inspiring results but are not free from criticism on the study methods and analysis. The effectiveness of punishment relates to how far it is successful in suppressing the undesired behavior. Effectiveness depends upon practices that work in general, and those that work with specific populations; the effects are not necessarily the same. Psychological research on punishment in has shown that mild punishment can be effective in changing behavior, but the evidence is less clear about the effectiveness of severe punishment. Effectiveness of punishment is increased by:
1. Frequency of application
2. Immediacy of application
3. Punishment used in conjunction with positive reinforcement of pro-social behavior However, punishment, especially in its severe form has several negative effects:
1. Avoidance or escape
2. Alienation of those punished, to the point of inaction
3. Aggressiveness, both targeted and generalized, by those punished
4. Conditioning of the punishers through rewarding them for behavioral change
5. Reproducing punishment behavior in those punished

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