After reading this section, students will be able to:
- Understand where the basic concept of punishment comes from
- Recognize the different ideologies of why and how people are punished
- Understand how punishment has evolved in the world, and how that has shaped punishment in the United States
Up to this point, we have spent much time on understanding crime, how it is policed, and how it is prosecuted in the courts. This section will cover the last third of the justice system, corrections. This section will focus on a brief history of corrections, to include the philosophical underpinnings of why and how we punish people.
Critical Thinking Questions
- Why are we more punitive at times than others? What changes our punitive values?
- What are some of the pros/cons of each of the four correctional ideologies?
- Does crime change depending on our collective correctional ideology, or practice?
- Does punishment change, based on our correctional ideology? How?
- What are some key explanations for the rise in the prison population in the U.S.?
- 8.2: Retribution
- Retribution, arguably the oldest of the ideologies/philosophies of punishment, is the only backward-looking philosophy of punishment. That is, the primary goal of retribution (in its original form) is to ensure that punishments are proportionate to the seriousness of the crimes committed, regardless of the individual differences between offenders, other than mens rea and an understanding of moral culpability. Thus, retribution focuses on the past offense, rather than the offender.