Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Just as there are different camps on most major issues of any importance, there will always be disagreement on why offenders should be punished, how offenders should be punished, and what constitutes punishment. The common dictionary says quite generally that punishment is loss, severe treatment or suffering. Our prison systems are based on the concept that corrections serve these functions: 1) retribution, 2) deterrence, 3) incapacitation, and 4) rehabilitation. I think we also need to consider two other functions are enumerated: reintegration, and control.
But what about retribution for the victims? This system dictates that the severity of the offense should match the level of incarceration. If some petty, non-violent crook gets nicked, he might be able to do his time at an “honor farm.” Likewise, if a man has been convicted as a murderer, maximum security is probably what he’s earned. This methodology even weighs the type of probation on the same scale. In the aftermath, the probationary attention to follow-up and detail befits the crime similarly. Citizens should like this system, because they feel it shows the moral imperative of “getting tough on crime.” We might think about a new, modern Justice Model of punishment.