A crime is purported to have been committed when an individual breaks or breaches the prevailing rule of law in a society or in a country. The word crime originated from a Latin word crimen a law term meaning to charge or accuse. Punishment on the other hand is the unpleasant act imposed on a person or animal deemed to have committed a crime. It originated from a Latin word punire which means causing or inflicting pain for a wrong done. There are different types of crimes which attract different forms of punishments. This is determined by the magnitude of the harm a crime causes and also the rule of law operating in a particular country.
The rule of law in force in a country outlines what constitutes a crime and also sets guidelines of the remedies available to the aggrieved party. An act may constitute a crime to one region while to another part it may not depending on the beliefs and the customs of the specific groups of people. However, there are some wrongs which are universally recognized as amounting to criminal acts like murder and treason. Punishment imposed are however subjective to the laws in a country (Dressler, pp 14). Different Kinds of Crimes and Punishments In law, not all breaching of it would amount to a crime.
Crimes are classified according to the rule breached and thus there are many forms. Crimes can also be categorized according to the persons subject to the crime and their interest. In this category, crimes like those against the state, violation of citizens’ rights, crimes related to justice administration and public administration, crimes against a persons faith, a persons honor and public order. All these forms among other amount to violation of a persons rights with the word person referring to natural or artificial persons. Crimes are also categorized according to the punishment they attract which depends on the magnitude of the offence.
These may range from minor offences to capital offences which call for capital punishments. Other acts deemed to constitute criminal acts are felonies and acts of misdemeanor (Dressler, pp 67). Misdemeanor is a lesser form of crime attracting only a minor fine punishment. Another category of crime is the crime involving breaching of international laws and regulations. The forms of crimes contained under this category are like genocide, spearheading war, slave trading, apartheid crimes, piracy and crimes which distort the international peace.
Such crimes which are beyond the scope of a states administration require international laws to solve them. International courts like the court of Hague located at Netherlands deal with such cases. Military crimes like mutiny are dealt with under the military laws headed by the courts martial which rule such cases. Different religions have also criminalized many acts and behaviors which may not necessarily amount to criminal offences in a country. Acts like alcoholism termed to be religious crimes are decided upon by these institutions using the divine laws. Such acts however may not be punishable under the country’s jurisdiction.
Employee crime is another form which has been on the rise in the recent past. Actions which constitute this form of crime include fraudulent activities and sabotage (Bellamy, para 3, 4). Another form of crime which has been so rampant of late is what is referred to as computer crime. Actions amounting to these crime are use of a computer without being given due authorization. This may include stealing a password or even the user name which may help the offender access personal details of the victim through the internet using a program commonly known as the Trojan horse (Standler, para 1).
Creating programs in another person’s computer maliciously also amounts to this form of a crime. Stalking and harassment via the cyber space is another form of this crime which has been on the rise. Forgery and counterfeit which are done through scanning of documents may also be classified under this form of crime. Stealing of a computer or a laptop containing vital information in the hard disk may amount to two different forms of crimes. These are theft and computer crimes and they attract criminal punishment.
One may also be prosecuted under this form of crime for soliciting sex using internet services and the punishment is similar to those convicted for sexual assault (Standler, para 3). Child abuse is a serious criminal offence recognized by almost all countries and treated with similar magnitude of seriousness in these countries. Another area which has sparked a lot of interest is the animal rights violation. Calls for protection of animal right has led to high punishment to those who violate their rights. Animal abuse amounts to criminal offence against them and is punishable under the law of the country.
Another form of criminal act which attracts heavy penalties is the crime of sexual abuse. This is considered a major crime against humanity and their dignity. Other minor form of crimes includes happy slapping and speeding. These forms attracts to lesser punishment which usually include fines and penalties (Shichor, pp 96). All these different forms of crimes are awarded different forms of punishments. The deciding or ruling jury imposes two forms of punishment. Punishment may either be positive or negative. In positive punishment, a method to stop the desire and eliminate the stimuli to commit the crime again is used.
This may be through infliction of pain on the offender. Negative punishment is however different. In this method, the offender is denied the objects he desires or the conditions to do something. The aversive stimulus may also be denied or even removed. All criminal offences attract criminal punishments but for minor offences, lesser punishment is awarded (Bellamy, para 6). The type of punishments imposed on small offenders includes fine charges. The amount to be fined depends with the magnitude of the offence or the loss suffered by the aggrieved person.
Loss of income is another option the jury may use to punish a criminal offender. In cases of embezzlement of funds and fraudulent activities, the culprit may be punished through such measures as demotion or being suspended from duties for a period of time. In more serious cases involving complex and sensitive departments, the offender may be terminated from carrying out his duties. Other forms of punishment available for less magnitude criminal offender include subjection to community service or being restricted from moving to certain areas. In more extreme cases, one may be denied his civic rights.
In cases where goods are involved, such goods may be confiscated by the government as a way of punishment. In cases where these goods may be substandard, they are usually destroyed (Shichor, pp106). Custodial punishment is another form of punishment imposed on an offender. This may include imprisonment and other modes of involuntary detention like confinement to a psychiatric hospital. Hard labor also may also be imposed along side imprisonment. In this form of punishment, no physical beating is imposed. This mode of punishment is aimed at changing the behavior of the offenders and to prevent them from committing similar crimes in the future.
Another form of punishment for mid criminal offenders is by use of public humiliation techniques. This form of punishment combines more than one mode of punishments which are compliments of each other. In this form, an offender may be subjected to social and community service which is combined with corporal punishment. The combination of the modes of punishment used in this form are meant to strengthen their effect on the offender (Bellamy, para 7). Corporal punishment is also another form used for punishing offenders. This form of punishment however is not legalized in all the countries.
This mode of punishment involves the use of canning or whipping with the number of whips varying depending on the offence. The part of the body where it is carried out also varies. Corporal punishment may also involve branding which is carried out through marking and also bodily mutilations. Mutilations may involve amputation of for example the legs, arm or the fingers. The intensity of corporal punishment depends on the magnitude and also the frequency of the offences carried out by the culprit. This form of punishment is meant for relatively severe criminal offences (Shichor, pp123).
The most extreme form of punishment is the capital punishment. This form is also commonly referred to as death penalty. It takes different forms in different countries. One way to carry out this punishment is through starving the offender. This involves denying the offender access to the basic needs like food and water. The offender thus dies of hunger. Another form is through the use of firing squad action. The offender in this case is shot by soldiers who shoot at him simultaneously to avoid identification or singling out of a soldier as the sole executor.
Burning is also another way of punishing extreme cases of criminal offences. The offences warranting this form of execution arise in cases of treason and sometimes in cases of witchcraft and heresy (Cauthen, para 2). The offender is then burned using wood. This was the traditional way of punishing people but with time it is being abandoned in many areas. Lethal injection is also another method used to execute the offender. The offender is injected with fatal drugs which causes his death. This was adopted to replace other forms which were considered cruel like the firing squad and electrocution.
Use of gas chambers is also another mode of capital punishment largely used by states still practicing this form of punishment. The offender is subjected to poisonous fumes or gases in a closed chamber which leads to his death. Beheading is also a method of executing capital offenders. Under this method, the culprit’s head is cut off using either a knife or a sword. An axe was used in the past to behead an offender. Other form of execution involves crucifixion and hanging (Cauthen, para 4). Criminal offences warranting capital offences include the crime of treason, murder, serial killing and multiple rape cases.
Robbery with violence may at times warrant capital punishment. Capital punishment has however in the past received different views from different sectors all over the world. Most countries have done away with it while other though it is included in their laws, it is hardly carried out. Only a few countries are still carrying out this form of punishment (Cauthen, para 5). Arguments in Favor of Imposing Punishment There are different reason as to why punishment is imposed on criminal offences and even civil wrongs in a country. The main aim of imposing these punishments is to institute a sense of responsibility in individuals.
As such, punishment is a method used to correct wrong behavior in an individual. Punishment may thus be described as a way to rehabilitate an individual to ensure that they do not repeat the same offences or even commit others. The goal of punishment is thus not to deter the offender from committing offences in the future but to change the behavior and attitude of such a person towards crime. Apart from ensuring that the offenders do not commit further crimes, punishment can also be used to deter those who could otherwise have committed similar crimes in the future.
Severe punishment and penalties instills fear in citizens at large thus reducing the chances of more crimes (Shichor, pp170). Public humiliation which may involve amputation of the legs, hands or fingers is defended in the ground that in so doing, the offender’s capacity to commit similar offences in the future is eliminated. This ensures that the offender is incapacitated thus guaranteeing that a repeat of similar offences are minimized. Incapacitation may also take form of geographically removing the offender thus eliminating chances of committing a crime.
Taking away of the stimuli attracting a person to commit criminal acts is also a way of disenabling them. A careless driver may be incapacitated by revoking his driving license. Imprisonment is also a way of restricting the prisoners from committing other crimes which may endanger the citizens. Restriction of movement on offenders and removal of other civil rights also minimizes the chances of further committing of a crime. Another form of incapacitation which has proved to be effective especially with persons who are perceived to be a threat to the society is through life imprisonment.
This form of punishment eliminates the possibility of the individual committing crime even in the future. Long term imprisonment may also be used for the same purposes (Bellamy, para 9). Retribution is another benefit derived from imposing punishment. This refers to the art of hitting back at the wrongdoer to get at par. Making the offender suffer is sometimes considered good and right in itself. This agenda of punishment is to set a standard whereby the offender gets equally what he deserves for his actions.
This method is also used to ensure that the victim has no further resentment on the offender. This helps to reduce tension in the society and promoting good behavior. Punishment also serves as an education ground for the society. By imposing punishment, the society is taught the correct social norms. Punishment also serves to reinforce the law and ensures that people obey it (Shichor, pp 202). Arguments against Use of Punishment as a Corrective Measure Criminal acts and punishment goes hand in hand to ensure justice and morality are achieved and attained in a country.
However, the use of punishment as a way behavior change approach has been highly criticized especially by behavioral psychologists. They argue that the use of penalties and fines and also imprisonment have no behavioral effects on the offenders. This is mainly because most of the offenders are repeat offenders and thus imprisoning them may not fully influence them to change. Imprisonment is also criticized in that by so doing, the stimuli to commit crime still remains and once the offender is released, he still commits similar or even more dangerous crimes (Doyle, para 1, 2).
Capital punishment is criticized on the basis that evidence provided may not always reflect the truth. Conspiracy may occur to amongst few individuals and an innocent person may be subjected to death penalty while the real culprit will remain at large. This form of punishment also is seen as being detrimental to the society and its cohesion. The country instead of causing more harm should seek to rectify the wrongs in other ways rather than killing its citizens. It is also argued that vengeance and restitution are different and thus equity cannot be guaranteed by death penalty (Boland Jr, para 3).
Also the act of executing people cannot be justified since by so doing this would not correct the wrong already done by the offender. This form of punishment also denies a person a chance to live his life to its full and denies the family and friends of such a person of his presence. Psychiatrists have found out that most of the persons who carry out offences warranting capital punishment are victims of depression and other contributory factors. Such persons should be taken to a rehabilitation centre and be trained to live with other people and to overcome their own fears.
Condemning such people to death penalty is thus unfair and inappropriate. Instead of capital punishment, other forms of punishment like isolation should be adopted by the government (Spammacus, para 2, 3). It has also been argued that the poor persons in the society are the ones subjected to capital punishment. This is because the rich have avenues and money to seek for appeal on judgments leveled against them a privilege the poor lacks. This leads to more poor people being executed and at times wrongly. This thus interprets to injustice in the country.
In 1973 for example, most Americans who had erroneously being convicted to death penalty were acquitted after it was found out that the sentence was not founded on true facts. Executing such persons would thus have amounted to injustice done on them. Capital punishment is also criticized on the basis that it is a form of torture to the offended person. Even lethal injection and use of gas chambers have been found to cause much pain on the person (Spammacus, para 4). Conclusion With the changing of believes and social cultural activities, criminal acts and their punishments are also changing.
Some of the acts which were not regarded as criminal have acquired a criminal nature while some of the punishment imposed have either been reduced or increased. The rule of law should be upheld always while dealing with criminal offences to ensure justice and equity are exercised always. However, traditional practices which are detrimental to the well being of the nation should be done away with. Before imposing a penalty or punishment, the deciding jury should analyze well the circumstances surrounding the offence and also other underlying factors which could have triggered the act.
Punishment should be equitable to the offence committed to ensure justice for all. Death penalty should be done away with and if in force, should only be exercised on the very extreme cases where by containing such an offender would harm the society around him. Work cited: Bellamy, Richard: Crime and Punishment Journal article of History Review, 1997 Boland, Thomas P. Beyond Retribution: A New Testament Vision for Justice, Crime, and Punishment Journal article of Theological Studies, Vol. 64, 2003 Cauthen, Kenneth: Capital Punishment 1997. Retrieved on 27th November 2008 from, http://www.
frontiernet. net/~kenc/cappun. htm. Doyle, James F. : A Radical Critique of Criminal Punishment Journal article by; Social Justice, Vol. 22, 1995 Dressler, Joshua: Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, ISBN 0028653238; Macmillan Reference, 2002. Shichor, David: The Meaning and Nature of Punishment; ISBN 157766387X, Waveland Press, 2006. Spammacus. Arguments against Capital Punishment 2004. Retrieved on 27th November 2008 from http://www. kuro5hin. org/story/2004/7/17/185/18073. Standler Ronald B. : Computer Crime 1999. Retrieved on 27th November 2008 from, http://www. rbs2. com/ccrime. htm.