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Punishment Theories

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  1. Introduction
  2. A better known strand of retribution would be the deserts theory
  3. Full sentences are not usually served
  4. The final theory of punishment
  5. Conclusion

When discussing reasons for punishment, one will find there are four main theories on which these reasons are based ? retribution, which looks to the past and deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation which are concerned with the future and are often thought of as utilitarian. These past and future philosophies hold different aims for punishment ? whilst the past wants to punish the crime, the future actually aims to achieve something by punishing, like reform. When exploring these theories further, it becomes clear that no single theory can adequately justify imprisonment and each has flaws when standing alone. In this essay I aim to explore each of the theories and discuss why alone they do not work and consequently discuss a balance of the theories, which would adequately justify reasons for punishments

[...] One example of this is R v Hatch[9] he was continuously arrested and punished for assaulting young boys and for the buggery of young boys, and it was stated that he was likely to exhibit the potential for this behaviour in the future, and that he will continue to be a danger to young boys. Consequently, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. However, this is in itself an inaccurate form of punishment, because it is difficult to predict who will offend again, and therefore how can heir incarceration be justified. [...]


[...] Chris Sarno, Ian Hearnden and Carol Hedderman Criminal Law Text and Materials Clarkson and Keating, P26 - 27 R v Williams [1974] Crim.L.R 558 (Court of Appeal, Criminal Division) R v Williams Page The Guardian, 16th September 2000 Page 1 Speech by the Home Secretary on Sentencing Reform, National Probation Service inaugural conference, 5th July 2001 Criminal Law Text and Materials Clarkson and Keating Page 37 John Halliday's Report of a Review of the Sentencing Framework for England and Wales, ?Making Punishments Work? John Halliday's Report of a Review of the Sentencing Framework for England and Wales, ?Making Punishments Work? R v Hatch [1997] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 22 (Court of Appeal, Criminal Division) Criminal Law Text and Materials Clarkson and Keating Page 56 Criminal Law Text and Materials Clarkson and Keating Page 58 Principles of Criminal Law Andrew Ashworth Page 17 Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, Research Findings No ?From Offending to Employment: A study of two Probation Schemes in Inner London and Surrey?. [...]


[...] Furthermore, is it wrong to punish people for their future crimes? Perhaps in fact what is happening is that they are being punished again, which is a obvious departure from the deserts theory only getting what is deserved for your crime. Another objection is that by taking them out of ?normal society? and placing them into a ?criminal society?, we are possibly harbouring a life of crime. There is evidence to suggest that crime inside prison is great, and that offenders can find a network of other criminals to work with. [...]


[...] However, this does not work. Half of all crimes are committed by a group of 100,000 criminals, and over half of these are being sentenced again within 2 years.[5] The reconviction rate for males is around 50 and this increases with each further reconviction.[6] However, these figures do not give us the full picture what about those who reoffend but are not caught? The second type of deterrence is general deterrence, which aims to deter people from committing crimes before they commit them perhaps tries to make an example of a criminal so others will no follow suit. [...]


[...] In this way, punishments would reflect their purpose and Hart[14] points out that society must reject the crime publicly, and that this may stimulate law abiding conduct and could discourage crime. Here we have both the past and the future recognised. In the probation schemes mention earlier, the crime was punished, and then afterwards rehabilitation began in probation, and this has slowly begun to cut reconviction rates perhaps this is a way of combining the theories into one form of punishment. [...]

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