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Theories of Punishment

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HomeBrud.gifCriminologyBrud.gifPunishmentBrud.gifTheories of Punishment

Punishing criminals is a function of the State. Penologists have formulated several theories that deal with punishments. The four modern theories are:

  • Deterrent Theory
  • Retributive Theory
  • Expiation Theory
  • Protective or Preventive Theory
  • Reformative Theory

Deterrent Theory

The aim of this theory is to inflict various penalties on the offenders with a view to deterring them from committing crime. This theory also seeks to create a sense of fear in the mind of others with a view to keep them away from committing such crime. The rigor of the punishment acts as a warning to others.

Deterrence fails in the case of hardened criminals because the punishment hardly has any effect on them. This can be said from the fact that many criminals return to prison. They prefer to live in a prison to live a normal life.

The aim of this theory is to be a terror to the evil-doers and a warning to all others who might be tempted to imitate them.

Retributive Theory

'Retributive' means 'punitive; to re-compensate; to payback'.

Retribution is by way of punishment. This theory says that the wrong doer should be given the same punishment as that will be suffered by the victim.

'a tooth for a tooth' and 'an eye for an eye'.

Expiation Theory

'Expiation' means 'compensation'.

According to this theory, a compensation is paid to to the victim on the wrongdoer. The society recognizes the right of the victim. The criminal is punished economically.

Protective or Preventive Theory

This theory says that all criminals should be imprisoned and kept them far away from the normal society without any connection to it. Thus, the society will be protected from the criminals.

This theory feels that protecting the society from criminals is better that curing the minds of the criminals.

Reformative Theory

This theory uses social, economic, physical and psychological methods in bringing about change in the minds of the criminals.

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