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Criminological thinking on PUNISHMENT

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1 Criminological thinking on PUNISHMENT
“ a legally approved method designed to facilitate the task of crime control” (Garland) Two opposing ideas over what the purpose of punishment should be: Aim of punishment – prevention of future crimes = REDUCTIVIST Those who look to the past to punish crimes already committed = RETRIBUTIVIST In practice, most criminal justice systems have these two aims co-existing in an uneasy hybrid combination

2 REDUCTIVIST principles
Justifies punishment on grounds of its alleged future consequences Supported by form of moral reasoning known as UTILITARIANISM By pointing to a future or greater good, reductivist principles focus on the instrumental “ends” of punishment So… the avoidance of further crime can be achieved through: deterring potential criminals (DETERRENCE) reforming actual criminals (REFORM + REHABILITATION) keeping actual or potential offenders out of circulation (INCAPACITATION) UTILITARIANISM Advocated by Jeremy BENTHAM (17148 – 1832) For punishment to reduce future crimes, the pains and unhappiness caused to the offender must be ‘outweighed by the avoidance of unpleasantness to other people in the future – thus making punishment morally right from a utilitarian point of view.’ (Cavadino and Dignan)

3 DETERRENCE Crime can be discouraged through the public’s fear of punishment they may receive if they break the law Individual deterrence When someone finds the experience of punishment so unpleasant that they never wish to repeat the infraction of fear of the consequences (“short sharp treatment”) General deterrence Offenders are punished not to deter the offenders but to discourage potential offenders

19th century development of prison regimes that sought to change the offender through a combination of hard labour and religious instruction Rehabilitation More individualised treatment programmes introduced in 20th century with emergence of welfare state

5 Rehabilitation At its height in 1950s and 1960s
Criminal behaviour was not a freely willed action but a symptom of some kind of mental illness that should be ‘treated’ Mid 1970s Research showed that ‘nothing worked’ But now revival with recent attempts to find ‘what works’ Rehabilitation programmes might ‘facilitate change’ rather than ‘coerce and cure’ (Cavadino and Dignan)

6 Incapacitation Offenders ability to commit further crimes by locking them up Not about changing the offender’s behaviour or about causes of crime It is about protecting potential victims as essence of punishment as opposed to rights of offenders Sentencing policy – main philosophical justification for imprisonment – ‘prison works’ – takes persistent and serious offenders off the streets and so, it is claimed, reduces the crime rate (Murray) – dramatic growth in prison population in recent years Most extreme form of incapacitation = death penalty: sex offenders – surgical or chemical castration Mandatory minimum sentencing – three strikes and you’re out

7 RETRIBUTIVIST principles
Wrongdoers should be punished because they deserve it, irrespective of any future beneficial consequences “an eye for an eye” 1750BC in Babylon Based on concept of lex talionis = law of retaliation principle developed by philosopher Immanuel KANT Revival in the past 30 years of retributivist ideas under guise of ‘just deserts’

8 ‘Just deserts’ 1950s/60s – penal system – important element of welfare state’s programme of social engineering – prevent crime through deterring potential offenders and incapacitating actual offenders and it was hoped that treatment programmes would rehabilitate offenders Move by mid 1970s about individual rights – new retributivist argument – just deserts Offenders should be punished only as severely as they deserve punishment fit the crime In reality, offenders tend to be already socially disadvantaged so that punishment actually increases equality rather than reducing it So…should imprisonment be reserved only for serious offenders??

9 Sociological explanations of PUNISHMENT
Sociologists explore the deeper role that punishment plays in society number of competing perspectives each one can be informed by a social theory main theorists – DURKHEIM, MARX, FOUCAULT The sociology of punishment seeks to understand why and how we punish

10 Emile Durkheim – SOCIAL SOLIDARITY
Examined relationships between crime, law and punishment to look for mechanisms that created SOCIAL SOLIDARITY. Also called FUNCTIONALISM: whatever aspect of social life is being studied, it must be approached from perspective of discovering what role it performs in preserving social stability Durkheim identifies the function of modern punishment in reassuring the public sentiment Punishment is able to play an important political role in maintaining authority

11 Karl MARX The benefits of using a Marxist framework is that it allows us to understand why offenders from the working class are imprisoned and offenders from the middle/upper classes are not. Discriminatory decision-making throughout the whole criminal justice system ensures that the socially advantaged are routinely filtered out: they are given the benefit of the doubt, or are defined as good risks, or simply have access to the best legal advice. Serious punishments such as imprisonment are predominantly reserved for the unemployed, the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, the addicted, and those who lack social support and personal assets.

12 Marxist theory is based upon the idea of class struggle and ideology.
Marxist theories tells us then, that the reason we imprison offenders is to control those who are a threat to dominant values.

13 Michel FOUCAULT "Disciplinary Punishment," is what Foucault says is practised in the modern era. Disciplinary punishment gives "professionals" (psychologists, programme facilitators, parole officers, etc.) power over the prisoner, most notably in that the prisoner's length of stay depends on the professionals' judgment. Power is on an increasingly individualised level, shown by the possibility for institutions to track individuals throughout their lives. Foucault suggests that a continuum runs through modern society, from the maximum security prison, through secure accommodation, probation, social workers, police, and teachers, to our everyday working and domestic lives. All are connected by the (witting or unwitting) supervision (surveillance, application of norms of acceptable behaviour) of some humans by others.

14 Activities Compare the differences between reductivists and retributivists over how punishment can be justified and how much punishment ought to be inflicted How might you apply Marxist ideas to contemporary trends in punishment? What do you think the limits on punishment should be and why?

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