The philosophical ideas of the punishment on crimes can be generally divided into two schools of thought: Reductivisim and retributivism. While the utility of punishment is mainly grounded on the idea of crime control, it must, however, be supported by a moral authority. This moral authority comes into play when deciding on whether the punishment is appropriate to the crime committed, and can be interpreted in the two schools of thought on punishment. Reductivisim vs. Retributivism
Reductivism refers to the philosophy that punishment is carried out to prevent or to discourage future crimes from the offender or as an example to possible offenders. Reductivism is largely supported by the philosophy of moral utilitarianism, that any discomfort experienced by the offender must be outweighed by the fact that his punishment will result in less discomfort for those who may have been the offender’s future victims. Its perspective is forward-looking, to prevent future crimes from being committed. Retributivism refers to punishment as simply an outcome from the offender’s wrongdoing.
Older codes of law are usually based on this moral authority, sometimes known as “just desserts (Carrabine, 2004, p. 236). ” However, liberal thinkers began to protest this route in punishing crimes, as it values the powers of state over each individual’s rights. Retributivism also appealed to feelings of revenge and—naturally—retribution, which does not fit in today’s idea of justice. Today’s idea of justice usually follows that the sentence must follow the offender, and not the offense (Carrabine, 2004, p. 236), which is against the idea of retributivism.
The modern justice system clings to neither school of thought but rather takes elements of both in a series of compromises. Many may argue that despite the archaic nature of retributivism, it still strongly manifests itself into our justice system, especially in the persistence of capital punishment. Reductivism on the other hand has proven itself ineffective: History and experience has shown us that punishment and indeed, the threat of punishment is not enough to deter potential offenders, especially those who live in poverty-stricken areas.
In fact, the number of prisoners continues to rise steadily over the years, triggering debates on whether this was caused by public expenditures being focused on physical prisons rather than welfare or rehabilitation of offenders (Carrabine, 2004, p. 233). Restorative Justice With the steady disillusionment in the justice system, and the active debate between social scientists, victims’ rights groups and prisoner’s rights group, a new school of thinking has arisen: Restorative justice.
Restorative justice aims to address the gap between the offender and the victim by having the offender compensate for any wrongdoing or damage they have done, effectively having them acknowledge their own fault and in doing so forming a relationship with their victim. Restorative justice can also involve family group conferences, reparation orders for offenders 10 years and older, and consultation with the victim’s family or group prior to reparation (ibid. p. 238).
Criticism of restorative justice has ranged from those claiming that offenders have little to no protection against pious moralizing to accusing this form of justice as a way to tighten social control. Regardless, it is quite clear that the current trend is, simply put, not working at all. We are approaching a time when the prison will only be used for those whose character is deemed unfit to be at large (Spalding, p. 3). As such, the increasing prison population and crimes demands us to consider alternatives to simply putting away offenders and forgetting about them.
Restorative justice encourages a system that effectively reintegrates offenders into becoming more productive members of society while at the same time addressing some of the justice system’s problems with prison population and crime acceleration. The Probation System: What You Need to Know The probation system encourages offenders to reintegrate and become healthier and more productive members of society. While the probation system is under the executive branch of government, it is the local judiciary who oversees probationary cases in most states.
The probation system is seemingly simple: Once the trial has been heard, the judge will consider the crime, the background of the offender, and the statements of the offender’s family on how the crime has affected them, before the judge decides on whether to sentence the offender to be under the probation system. Offenders are then undergo risk classification what their individual needs are and the risks the offender will present to the community under probation. The risk classification will then result in getting the probation officer most suited for the offender’s needs.
Once the probation has been served and the requirements set, the judge will declare the sentence served and the offender released back into society. The probation system affords the offender a sense of freedom by allowing the offender to live at home. However, the system also encourages participation with the greater community by having the offender report to their probation officers, who act both as a supervisor and a counselor. Probationers are also given access to social services in housing, education, housing and finances.