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Punishment Research Paper in Soc/120

In the United States crimes are committed every day. The question becomes what is the most effective way to handle those who committed the crimes. Every crime is different and every criminal has a different motive. Is there a way to choose one punishment or does each case need to be handled on an individual basis? Deciding the punishment is the most important way to ensure that the crime does not happen again by the same individual. The United States currently uses four types of punishment; retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and social protection.

Retribution can be described as, “An act of moral vengeance by which society makes the offender suffer as much as the suffering caused by the crime” (Macionis, p. 182). Retribution works to find a punishment that most fits the crime. If a person steals items from a store will removing their hand stop them from stealing again? This example of course would be considered cruel and unusual and in today’s society would not be acceptable punishment.

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The death penalty is the most common form of retribution when it is used to punish a murderer. Punishing a criminal to the death penalty for killing someone else would be a punishment that fits the crime. However, the death penalty is not an accepted form of punishment in all parts of America some have argued that without the threat of the death penalty a criminal can be punished less severely than deserved. According to Ewegen. The Post’s editorial suggested a life sentence as an alternative to capital punishment.

But in doing so, it ignored the death penalty’s greatest value-it lets prosecutors strike plea bargains in which vicious killers agree to a life sentence in return for the prosecution agreeing not to seek a death penalty (1994). Retribution does not work with the criminal to ensure that the crime would not happen again. When retribution is used as punishment is benefits the victims more than the criminal. The victims have a sense of payback for the crimes that were committed against them but nothing has changed the criminal. Would knowing what the punishment is for each crime stop a criminal form committing it? Punishment 3

Deterrence is “the attempt to discourage criminality through the use of punishment” (Macionis, p. 182). The use of deterrence would be for the public to have a common knowledge of what the specific punishment would be for each crime that is committed. Using deterrence means that a person would think about the punishment before deciding to commit a crime. For example, if stealing an item that is worth five-hundred dollars meant spending one year in jail is it worth it? When crimes are committed without thinking deterrence is less effective because the criminal does not take the time to contemplate the consequences.

Deterrence is best to used for crimes that are easily prevented such as drunk driving. The group Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has researched the effectiveness of deterrence when studying alcohol related vehicular accidents. Since drunk driving laws are clearly spelled out the punishments for being caught drunk driving. Introduction Crime has existed since the early history of civilization. For centuries, societies have established laws to protect citizens form crime. Throughout the years, these laws have continuously been enforced in attempt to maintain social order. One such law is punishment for those who act deviously.

Acts of deviant behavior have been a social issue surrounded by much controversy throughout the United States. Those found guilty of deviant behavior have been dealt with through various forms and degrees of punishment. The United States justifies four types of punishment: retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and societal protection. These forms of punishment are society’s attempt to cease crime. This paper will explain in further detail the effectiveness these punishments have on Society, which type of punishment deters crime most effectively, and do the consequences of punishment provide any benefits for criminals and society.

Justifying Punishment In the United States, the practice of punishment requires a type of justification. The justification often involves imposing some form of harm to individuals who break a law. The truth behind the application of punishment is not if it should hurt an individual but if the justification of said punishment makes sense. When a 15 year old girl walking home from school is killed by a stray bullet, society becomes enraged. They believe that the individuals responsible for such a horrific act of violence must be punished.

In situations such as this, society expects the criminal justice system to punish the offenders to the maximum extent of the law. The questions here are, who has the right to punish said individuals, and how much punishment is justified? This however, increases society’s questions about moral and ethical issues concerning discrimination and equality. Consequently, the concept of punishment affects those who behaved defiantly and those who decided what form of punishment needs to be applied.


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