The Evolution Of Punishment Practices With Time Has Been Influenced By The Underlying Justification For The Punishment

1270 Words Nov 12th, 2015 6 Pages
The evolution of punishment practices with time has been influenced by the underlying justification for the punishment: namely utilitarian, retributivist, or a combination of the two. The concept of general deterrence utilizes the threat of punishment to deter society from crime, and the reasoning behind punishment based on those grounds will be examined in this essay. Rehabilitation rationale will also be analyzed to highlight the respective strength of general deterrence and retribution in offenders receiving the punishment they deserve. The utilitarian and rational strengths associated with the threat of punishment makes general deterrence the most convincing utilitarian justification; however, general deterrence alone may give rise to a system in which punishment is not certain or just, necessitating the retributivist establishment of culpability and the reduction of unfair advantages. Since the Enlightenment, the practice of punishment has revolved around the twin cores of rationality and utilitarianism, and the necessity in making the perceived costs of crime not worth the potential benefits. This focus on rationality directly led to the foundation of two utilitarian justifications of punishment: general deterrence, utilizing the threat of punishment to ensure the irrationality of committing crime; and reform, affecting the rehabilitation of the offender through rational means.
The justification for general deterrence assumes that “the state doing the harm creates…

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