Retributive Theory Of Punishment

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From time immemorial we have seen it being recorded in history as well as religious texts like the Bible that punishment has been meted out to those who have committed a crime or a wrong. The Christians believe that the first crime was Adam and Eve disobeying and the first punishment recorded was Adam and Eve being sent out of the Garden of Eden. Interestingly punishment seems horrible to the one being punished and is never enough to the victim who has suffered. Punishment seems to be motivated by various concepts of which the most common are retributive and utilitarian. The retributive theory argues that a person who deserves punishment needs to be punished and who does not deserve punishment should not be punished. Retribution implies that…show more content…
Many early societies applied this “eye-for-an-eye” principle literally.” (1) Michael Moore in his book: A review of Placing Blame: A General Theory of Criminal Law, lets us know that retribution has intrinsic good and that if we feel any bit of sympathy for the offender it must be just “moral hallucination”.(2) Retribution according to this writer is intrinsically good and central to the concept of justice. The intensity of the punishment shows the retributive impulse and this is a sign of the moral reality that retribution is intrinsically good as well as the primary focus of the…show more content…
Flew argues that punishment, in the sense of a sanction imposed for a criminal offense, must consist of the following five elements: 1. It must involve an unpleasantness to the victim. 2. It must be for an offense, actual or supposed. 3. It must be of an offender, actual or supposed. 4. It must be the work of personal agencies; in other words, it must not be the natural consequence of an action. 5. It must be imposed by an authority or an institution against whose rules the offense has been committed. If this is not the case, then the act is not one of punishment but is simply a hostile act. Similarly, direct action by a person who has no special authority is not properly called punishment, and is more likely to be revenge or an act of hostility. (5) This now leads us to ask the fundamental question as to why the offender should be punished. The possible responses according to Cynthia L. Banks are: They deserve to be punished, Punishment will stop them from committing further crimes, Punishment tells the victim that society disapproves of the harm that he or she has suffered, Punishment discourages others from doing the same thing, Punishment protects society from dangerous or dishonest people, Punishment allows an offender to make amends for the harm he or she has caused, Punishment ensures that people understand that laws are there to be

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