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SOC 120 week 6 assignment Punishment Research Paper




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Punishment Research Paper 1
Punishment Research Paper
Dawnette Dunkley
University of Phoenix
Instructor: Loren Butler

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Punishment Research Paper 2
Punishment Research Paper
Throughout history and in every era, American society struggles to find adequate punishments
to address deviant and criminal behaviors. The reality is, punishment is an inherent part of
people’s lives; it manifests itself in the way parents reprimand children, teaching them about
responsibility, accountability, and consequences as well as in the way the judicial system
punishes offenders. Unlike Iran that amputates systematically the arm(s) of people accused of
stealing; the American justice system provides less severe ways in which to address similar
offenses. In the United States, the severity of the punishment is based usually on the degree of
the offense, which ranges between paying fines, probation, imprisonment, or execution. Yes,
America has had its share of seemingly barbaric punishments for crimes, as its last public
execution was only 73 years ago, with the public execution of Rainey-Bethea. Four different
types of justification for punishment in American society include retribution, deterrence,
rehabilitation, and societal protection. Even though each of these justifications for punishment
helps to reduce crime rates in society, each has its share of controversy, with both advantages and
drawbacks. The concept of punishment evolves overtime and garners both supporters and
detractors, as proponents and opponents argue whether punishment do more harm than good.
Assessment of punishment continues to be a hot button issue in American society today;
therefore, the purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of each of these four types of
punishments as they relate to today’s American society. Additionally, the purpose is to discuss
which of these types of punishment deters crimes most effectively; furthermore, it will discuss
whether consequences of punishment provide any benefits for criminals or society.

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Punishment Research Paper 3
Satisfying society’s need for retribution is the earliest form of justification for punishment.
Retribution is basically moral revenge or retaliation against someone who commits a wrongful
act or crime, as society makes criminals suffer as much as the suffering they inflict. Many people
believe criminality upset the moral order in society and view retribution as the only means by
which to exact punishment to restore moral balance. However, most opponents, including
criminologists, human rights activists, and jurists believe the whole concept of retribution is
simply a fancy name for revenge and it is not necessarily the best solution. In fact, Berns (2004)
held that opponents dismiss and distrust retribution as a justification for punishment.
Most people believe that trust and friendship are essential elements that make up the
foundation of a moral community; therefore, criminal violations of this foundation, not only
affect the individual victim, it affects the whole community. For instance, a rash of murders in a
community may cause both close family members of the victims and the community at large to
seek retribution. Most people may believe that to restore order to this community, the
punishment should fit the crime, which in this case means execution of the offender. One may
argue however, if retribution is such an effective deterrent, why are there such high rate of
criminal recidivism? For this reason Nussim & Tabbach (2009) cite that, although retribution
helps people to avenge the wrongs committed against them; avenging the wrongs in society may
not necessarily deter criminal activity. Consequently, retribution can be a deterrent factor against
committing crimes, but it does not provide much benefit for criminals; however, it helps to
restore moral balance to society.

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