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The ideas of retribution and revenge became less important in punishments. In , Sir Robert Peel abolished the death penalty for over crimes. Further laws in and reduced the number of capital crimes to just five:. This shows several developments in attitudes to punishments. The reduced desire for retribution can also be seen in the reduced number of corporal crimes. Only flogging remained as a physical punishment in this century.

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Judges could, and did, order offenders to be whipped until when an Act of Parliament ended it as a punishment. Judgement in the New Testament is by no means always described using metaphors drawn from the courtroom. This is the fruit of tsedeq, things and people as they ought to be, the all-rightness God intends. They are highly personal and relational terms.

Beyond crime seriousness: Fitting the punishment to the crime

Indeed, OT Israel is offered by the Bible as a paradigm or model from which ethical and practical insights may with due care and sensitivity be drawn and applied to other societies. The administration of justice emphasised community participation: alleged offenders were brought to trial by the victim, a relative or an eye-witness, rather than public prosecutors; matters were often settled at the town gate by community elders.

Harris: Punishment Does Not Fit the Crime

In terms of punishment, three prominent themes which emerge are now considered. For many offences, particularly theft and personal injury. Old Testament law required the offender to make restitution e. Exodus , 4. As between offender and victim, justice had to be restored. Notably the Hebrew for restitution shillum is derived from the same root as shalom. Restitution was so important that a thief who had nothing was to be sold to pay for his theft: he became the tied servant of the injured party for up to seven years or was, possibly, sold to a third party who would give a sum of money to the victim Exodus ; Deuteronomy The extent of capital punishment in OT Israel is sometimes regarded as problematic.

However, OT Israel resorted to capital punishment only after the stringent evidential requirements had been satisfied: two eye-witnesses were needed Deuteronomy In OT Israel, unlike Mesopotamia, no property crime ever warranted this ultimate sanction. Human life was always more precious than mere property. Even so, OT Israel was prepared through capital punishment to carry out the permanent removal of an offender from the community.

Which divides a community by creating a class of outcasts. The form of punishment conspicuous by its almost complete absence from OT Israel is imprisonment. Apart from this, compulsory exclusion from community life for a period was not practised, an omission which invites a critical re-examination of the role prison plays today. The New Testament practice of excommunication sheds interesting light on these themes of removal and reintegration. If punishment is to be part of a process whereby a person is restored fully to the life of the community, the community will need to demonstrate its reacceptance of the erstwhile offender.

Studies suggest that a factor behind offending behaviour is an inability to grasp the impact of such behaviour on others, a lack of empathy for victims. Hosea 5.

CONTINUE TO BILLING/PAYMENT

Similarly, where God intervenes to judge individuals, an accompanying dialogue may seek to sensitise the culprit to the true character of his deed e. Our discussion prompts the conclusion that a biblical account of punishment must be anchored in an understanding of retribution which seeks to communicate moral truth by censuring wrongdoing. Punishment must be just and the fundamental aim should be not to impose suffering on offenders but to reassert the broken moral order which lies behind any defensible code of law. Such an endeavour may on occasions allow the setting aside of strict proportionality, so providing a pale reflection of the aspect of mercy within divine justice.

Retribution as a philosophy

More than this, punishment administered justly pays heed to the importance of maintaining, or restoring, relationships in society characterised by justice, mutual respect and, wherever possible, full participation in community life. Thus, punishment should acknowledge the place of the victim and in many cases will demand reparation by wrongdoers. The biblical perspective on punishment summarised in this chapter can provide a basic orientation in assessing policy issues in the penal system.

Naturally, applying such a perspective to a modern, largely urban society with an increasingly plural culture is a complex matter. A burgeoning criminological literature bears witness to the diversity of people, situations, factors and issues which penal policy must address. Further, punishment cannot be viewed in isolation from the distinct but related matters of judicial process, crime prevention strategies, social justice and welfare concerns.

Our aim here is briefly to explore a limited selection of shortcomings in our penal system and possible ideas for constructive change. While judicial discretion can lead to inconsistency and, hence, injustice, sentencing guidelines are a more appropriate response than mandatory sentences which are sometimes advocated at the highest level e. Meanwhile, unemployed and black people are exposed to some likelihood of more punitive sanctions than others for the same offences, indicative in many cases of a bias which has nothing to do with assessing deserts and which needs to be remedied.

The prison population in England and Wales has risen from 39, in to 61, in May and is projected to rise further. Yet in many cases it is doubtful whether imprisonment is the most suitable punishment. The majority of prisoners have committed offences involving no violence and are not obviously a threat to public safety.


  1. The Book of James?
  2. Glorious, Accursed Europe (The Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry);
  3. Eavesdropping on Hell: Historical Guide to Western Communications Intelligence and the Holocaust, 1939-1945 (Dover Military History, Weapons, Armor).

Moral and pragmatic arguments suggest we should use prisons less. Imprisonment will remain part of the penal scene, and for some offenders is the only realistic option. Offering prisoners productive, properly paid work should be explored so that they can make payments to their victims — and their own families.

Prison is a form of temporary exile. In , 22 per cent of indictable offenders in England and Wales were imprisoned, 28 per cent given supervisory sentences e. Changing this would require sustained political effort, increased resources to provide adequate supervision, and ongoing research to develop and assess methods and results.

So too would attempts to promote reparation see below. A few schemes typically associated with diverting young offenders from the courts already exist; many more could be developed. If justice is to be done as between victim and offender, the knotty question of victim participation in the process from arrest to sentencing needs careful examination.

Direct or indirect communication between victim and offender, as offered by mediation schemes, can help sensitise offenders to the hurt crimes cause to a fellow human being, and help victims work through their often varied reactions to an offence. Policy towards offenders has been growing more punitive since the s.

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punishment should fit the criminal - DebateWise

Political calculation has been a factor, but so have deeper social trends. Braithwaite has argued that the ideology of individualism — and one might add features of modern economic life — has been eroding the informal sanctions which intermediate social networks can apply to anti-social behaviour. It is tempting to baulk at the uphill task of reinvigorating those social networks, not least by harnessing community resources in responding to crime, and to resort instead to the coercive apparatus of the state.

Christopher Townsend read economics at Cambridge University and now works as a solicitor, specialising in corporate tax law. Hart, Punishment and Responsibility Clarendon Press, Note, too, some accounts which see reducing crime as the basic justification of punishment are not utilitarian at all but based in human rights theory.

I support this position. Some District Attorneys would howl that their office properly, professionally, and ethically handles such cases. But we are dealing with a public perception by significant parts of our constituencies that because of their daily working relationship with the police, local district attorneys simply cannot be the fair, impartial, and professional prosecutors that these cases require and demand.

Even if this were to happen, it still leaves a question that I have never seen addressed, the ability of the local judge to sit as a totally fair and impartial jurist in a police officer shooting case that involves a split second decision by the accused officer.

Essay on Level of Punishment Does Not Fit the Crime

He or she might rue the day he or she argued for exclusive jurisdiction over police officer shooting cases. Still, I would prefer an elected official having the responsibility of making these decisions rather than a special prosecutor appointed by the Governor, Attorney General, or Court. Trespassing onto a farm and stealing a chicken or eggs has resulted in the thief being executed in more than one country.

Virtually every country in the world today outlaws such reprehensible punishments.


  • What exactly does the the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" mean?!
  • Apples to Oranges.
  • Teslas Revenge (Argon Adventures #1);
  • If a woman committed adultery in the 18th century in the United States she could be executed I have not seen any historical reference to a male adulterer being executed. Today 21 states still have anti-adultery laws but no convicted adulterer can be sentenced to death — well, at least not by a court of law! In fact, what we see today is a world that continues to move away from using the death penalty — though women convicted of adultery in some countries can still be executed, even today.

    Like countries in the rest of the world, our states continue to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Eighteen states no longer have the death penalty. In Colorado, Washington, and California, there are executive or legally mandated moratoria on the death penalty.