Research on Punishment in America

There are four types of punishment that are carried out in the American society. These include retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation and social protection. Retribution is the kind of punishment whereby the offender suffers as much as the kind of crime he/she commits and the effects that it has. This kind of punishment has its basis in the Bible as the traditional form of punishment based on the principle of eye for an eye (Pizaro, 2006, p. 56). Going back to the Bible, crime was not only considered to be against the society but also against God Himself. Therefore, equal harshness of the punishment as the crime committed was recommended. In America, this kind of punishment is the common one within the legal system. After this kind of punishment, the individual does not turn to be a special member of the society in any way. People do not recognize him any different but just a criminal. In such a situation, the criminals stand a chance of repeated crimes due to the tolerance and already inflicted pain as well as being considered social misfits.

A philosopher by the name this form of punishment a social justice to the offended. However, the critics for this method of punishment say that it is considered unethical according to the Christian teaching (Goldman, 1982, p. 57). In the United States, people argue that judges in their judgment do not have discretionary powers to allow for mitigating factors before a punishment. Regarding fines, rich people and poor ones pay the same kind of fine on the same kind of crime committed. These fines may seem more punitive to a poor person than to a rich one, for the latter it may not serve as a real punishment for the crime at all. Retribution does not give rise to real solution to crime in the United States due to its inability to cater for the psychological trauma caused to the victims of crime especially while in prison or even when fined. Many of those criminals punished through retribution are likely to hit back again.

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Deterrence is another form of punishment; it presupposes the use of definite measures to discourage criminals from committing crime. Deterrence best works when a person realizes the consequences of crime before committing it (Gerald, 1990, p.132). In the United States the availability of many prisoners in jails tends to be a deterring factor for other criminals from offending people because they are already assured that they will land in the same prison. The results of this theory are well realized when a person understands the possible consequences of crime even before committing it. However the question whether the presence of these prisoners in jail really motivates criminals or limits crime still remains unclear. This idea is in America. Many criminals are taking prisons to be their second homes in the society. They are never deterred to avoid crimes but are turning out to be prison mongers. With the failure of the method the need for the adoption of new techniques like surveillance becomes evident. Motorists for instance are likely not to commit traffic offenses while on the road because they are being recorded by a camera. The deterrence caused by the presence of the camera creates more assurance that one may be caught and charged for the same offense; it makes criminals fear to commit crime.

The view of rehabilitation as a means of preventing crime in America appeared in the nineteenth century when sociologists came to the conclusion that the relationships between criminals and their environment were interrelated. to sociologists researches were a result of their upbringing and the particular environment that could have taught them . The sociologists developed theories based on the fact that human beings are likely to imitate environments that they stay in than what is actually correct and ideal for the society. These theories are recommended for the formation of institutions in order to them to the societal expectations. In the United States, rehabilitation centers came up with a time schedule to handle criminals. This approach did not really mean to punish criminals but to remind them what the society expected from them. In a bid to help them to re-establish their characters, some were sent to military camps to serve as service men with the hope that military style and discipline would change them (Goldman, 1982, p. 57). They were taught many skills to needed to cope with anger and emotions in order to avoid violence. This method is seen to be very effective in the US since many people are prone to behavioral change due to change of environments.

Social protection as a mechanism of punishment entails confining offenders or criminals in an attempt to control further offenses from them. This method targets to secure the society as a whole from such violent criminals. This system has enormously increased the number of criminals incarcerated in the United States. The society of United States never wishes to live with such criminals; people want them to stay in prison. The effects of this system are that people tend to feel more secure with the knowledge that these bad criminals cannot reach them. The government takes it as an initiative to safe guard the larger society.

Studies have shown that the existing kinds of punishment do not reduce the level of crime in the United States. The justification for these kinds of punishment has caused a lot of damage to the American society. Prisons in America have been built to order isolate criminals from the society; this has resulted in further deviant behaviors which were the result of mental damage due to inappropriate rehabilitation. It results in repeating criminal behaviors of these offenders once they are released.

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