The Purpose of Criminal Law
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The Purpose of Criminal Law
Criminal law has many different purposes with one ultimate goal which is to keep society safe from harm and to keep social order. A society without laws would be a very unorganized and unsafe society. Without boundaries or laws, people would be untrustworthy and unsafe. This paper will discuss the different purposes of criminal law and some of the actions taken to achieve those purposes such as deterrence and punishments.
Sometimes for a person to think twice about their actions, they need to see that there are consequences for those actions. Deterrence is one of the main focuses of punishment within the criminal justice system. Specific Deterrence is defined as “A goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to prevent a particular offender from engaging in repeat criminality” and deterrence is defined as “A goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to inhibit criminal behavior through the fear of punishment” (Schmalleger, 2009, p.384).
Using punishment to deter crime means to discourage others from committing that crime. For example, the punishment for 1st degree murder is either life in prison without the chance of parole or the death penalty. Another purpose for punishment is to repay society for the wrong committed against it and incapacitation.
Incapacitation means to incarcerate an offender so that person will not be able to commit more crimes such as murder. Life in prison keeps the offender from being released into society to reoffend. Also, being incapacitated may also assist the offender in rehabilitation before they are released back into society.
The focus of rehabilitation within the criminal justice system is basically providing the offender with the proper services needed to allow that person to be released into their community as productive, law abiding citizens. Prisons offer many of these programs while the offender is incarcerated but there is also reentry programs that will allow them to continue to receive these services once released. For example, parole or probation are programs used to watch someone that has recently been released from incarceration. The purpose of parole and probation is to make sure that the offender is completing their requirements which usually consist of programs needed for rehabilitation and restoration.
Restoration is defined as “A goal of criminal sentencing that attempts to make the victim whole again” (Schmalleger, 2009, p.385). Usually with restoration as a goal, the offender is required to pay some sort of restitution to assist the victim in overcoming physical or mental problems that may have occurred because of the crime committed against them. Victims of violence usually have not only physical but mental illnesses due to being victimized and need to see doctors