There is a heated debate going on in many countries and states regarding the issue of punishment. Many scholars think that punishment should be sensible, human, and should aim to correct the offender. The punishment of criminal offenders as identified by classical penology may achieve the following ends; incapacitation, retribution, prevention, and rehabilitation.
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Of the four ends which punishment aims to achieve, retribution has been the subject of most of the debates in modern law. Current laws often identify criminal activities as offenses against the state. Therefore, the harm inflicted by a criminal to society is often quantified through the eyes of the state. The specific injury caused to the victim or victims of the crime is only useful in the sense that the victim is an element in the bigger society.
In dealing with crime, the victim and the offender are all regarded as part of the society and, therefore, the punishment should be consequentialist, these are to say that it should be aimed at influencing the behavior of the offender and deter other members of the society. Retributive punishment is more aimed at avenging the injury and not to rehabilitate.
Retributive punishment gained popularity in the past decades due to the skepticism that surrounds rehabilitative and deterrence punishments. It is generally regarded that punishment is achieved using the retribution theory even if rehabilitation and deterrence cannot be achieved.
Following moral reasoning and the consideration of the many different factors that drive criminal activities, many countries and states have done away with retributive punishments such as capital punishments that have been banned. It remains to be seen what other states and government s will do about such punishments, especially against the backdrop of increased criminal and terrorism activities.