Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Region: England, Wales and Northern Ireland


A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
“A huge resource to treasure.”
Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today

We are delighted to share with you our library of resources. You can use the filter feature below to find topics most relevant to your curriculum.

The Aims of Punishment

An exploration of the purpose of punishment...

People commit crimes for all kinds of reasons, but regardless of the reason, all governments across the world have created a series of laws. These laws are different, depending on which country a person lives in. All countries, including the UK, put criminals in prison for varying lengths of time. However, some countries still have capital punishment - the death penalty - for more serious crimes.

The Office for National Statistics reports that nearly 12 million offences occurred in the UK in 2020. You can read the full report here.

When considering these statistics it becomes clear that an effective system of punishment is essential. But what is the aim of punishment? There are four main views on this subject.

The four main aims of punishment are:

  • Protection of society - this is to protect society and the criminal.
  • Retribution - punishment for the crime committed, the criminal should be made to pay for what they've done
  • Deterrence - the punishment should work to put people off of committing crimes.
  • Reformation - the punishment should focus on rehabilitating the criminal, making them see the error of their ways and helping them become a better person.
QUESTION: What do you think is the most important aim of punishment?