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RE:QUEST

A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith

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Issues: 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, putting 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 across 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 six main views on this subject.

The six 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.
  • Reparation - the punishment sees the criminal giving something back to the victim of the crime.
  • Vindication - this punishment is concerned with seeing the law of the land upheld and respected.
QUESTION: What do you think is the most important aim of punishment?