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The Philosophy of Punishment for Criminals in Regard to Society and Victim - Essay Example

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This paper examines the role that punishment plays in fulfilling the needs of society, the victim, and the criminal. The findings are evidenced by previous research and contend that the judicial system, and the system of punishment, has been geared more towards a uniform protection of the security of society and punishment of the criminal, rather than the physical and emotional needs of the victim…
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The Philosophy of Punishment for Criminals in Regard to Society and Victim
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Download file to see previous pages Changes should be instituted that continue to enhance the rights of victims and create a greater sensitivity to their long-term emotional needs.
It is a relatively recent development in the history of punishment that the victim of a crime is not central to the issue of resolving the debt created by a criminal act. In the American justice system, a criminal is considered indebted to the greater society, thus excluding the victim as a part of the punishment process. In fact, the concept of victims' rights has only become an issue for the justice system within the last few decades. The design of the justice system was not created with empathy for the victim, or an understanding of the lasting affect that violent crime can have on the life of someone who must cope with the aftermath of such an act. However, the concept of punishment does hold the potential as a deterrent for future crimes, and in this way relates mainly to the needs of a secure society. In an examination of punishment in the United States, and the way in which it relates and affects both the victim and society, it reveals a philosophy that is ineffective at addressing the core issues that are significant to the long-term goals of society, or in satisfying the needs of the victim.
In the evaluation of the ways in which crime a...
five prevalent categories of needs for victims that include "retaliation, recognition of victim status, confirmation of societal values, victim security, and societal security" (p.173). The five goals of the victim are directly related to the ways in which the crime has affected the well-being of the individual. The more violent crimes require more than one of these goals in establishing a sense of closure, while less violent crime can require only one or two of these goals. However, these goals that affect the well-being of the victim are often not specifically addressed in the current justice system. While civil lawsuits can create monetary reparation toward the victim, most crimes are difficult to address through this type of litigation. Criminals that are incarcerated usually have no physical resources for restitution, and become a depersonalized entity within the prison system. Victims are left with a sense that their needs have diminished within society and that their circumstance has not been properly acknowledged.
Historical Perspective
Historically speaking, the philosophy of punishment has more often been designed around reparation to the victim of a crime. This is not to suggest that punishment was more merciful or did not have an aspect of cruelty incorporated into it. One example of the harshness of ancient law is from Sumer, which has the earliest surviving written record of law in history. According to Tetlow (2004), "When a woman said something offensive to a man, her teeth were crushed by burnt bricks on which her guilt had been inscribed. The bricks were then hung up in the city gate for all to see" (p.9-10). While the harshness of this sentence is beyond any reasonable standard of conduct for a modern culture, it represents the direct ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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