Samples Philosophy Punishment Philosophy

Punishment Philosophy

975 words 4 page(s)

Restorative justice focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders, allowing for such offenders to become productive members of society and refrain from criminality and social deviance. Unlike other approaches to punishment, restorative justice is goal-oriented and aims to maximize the positive roles that former offenders fill in society.  

Punishment Philosophy
Rehabilitation should be the primary focus of the justice system. Thus, restorative justice is the most appropriate approach to be taken and should be adopted to maximize the benefits and minimize the drawbacks of an active justice system. This approach, of course, relies heavily on psychology. After all, crime and deviance, to some degree, is viewed under this approach as something that can be corrected on a psychological or rational level. In other words, adopting a rehabilitative approach to the focus of the justice system requires understanding crime as originating in part from psychological issues that can be addressed in a rehabilitation setting. This approach, it should be noted, does not exclude other, non-psychological explanations for crime (Bazemore & Schiff, 2013). For example, certain social and environmental factors may be identified as triggers for criminal behavior for any given individual charged with a crime. The restorative justice approach, at least as I envision it, includes taking account certain non-psychological factors for crime in the rehabilitative process. Some criminals may require being relocated outside of their existing social circles before the rehabilitation can occur or rehabilitation can be effective in the long-term. The specific aim of this restorative justice approach is to transform criminals into productive members of society, thereby making things right or restoring justice, at least to some degree.

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A virtue of restorative justice over many of the other approaches to criminal justice is that it is focused on results that are actually important (Ward, Fox, & Garber, 2014). These results are decreases in criminal activity and costs and increases in economic productivity and the accomplishment of community goals. A restorative justice approach focuses on changing how criminals, especially juvenile criminals, approach their situations and accomplish their goals. In many communities, there is a culture encouraging violence and property crime and rejecting education. This type of culture strongly influences how juveniles shape their own goals and how they approach accomplishing these goals. The restorative justice approach focuses on undoing these influences and replacing them with an idea of a better life through positive community involvement, legitimate economic productivity, and education. Some other approaches focus on punishment as a means to achieving justice, which lack the aforementioned positive results. Justice approaches that are focused on deterrence through coercion or retributive punishment are somewhat focused on such results, but go about it through ineffective means. Coercion and retributive punishment may play some role in producing positive outcomes, but rehabilitation should play the primary role here.

Restorative justice is the best approach to achieving the aforementioned positive ends. The Bible, in many ways, supports this approach. For example, the verse “Do horses run upon rocks? Does one plow the sea with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood” (Amos 6:12) seems to get at the heart of the issue. Many of the other forms of justice do not promote good. Instead, they focus on an emotion-based idea of justice. Having someone killed because they did wrong is not good and can be viewed as the poison mentioned above. Instead, transforming someone who killed into a productive member of society accomplishes actual good and serves a meaningful purpose in society. In Romans, the following verse can be found: “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads” (Romans 12: 17-20). This is the basis for the two wrongs don’t make a right argument and serves an important purpose. Certain punishments do not have the right intentions. Instead, punishment should be rehabilitative and serve a meaningful purpose, which in part may be the shame discussed in Romans above which can be used to promote positive actions.

Under a restorative justice approach to punishment, the most appropriate means of punishment involve the rehabilitation of criminals. Such means, therefore, include psychological examinations for all criminals and the appropriate therapeutic sessions with psychologists and psychiatrists to identify those thought patterns that need to be changed to deter future crime and promote socially productive and satisfying lives. Criminals should be educated about the opportunities presented to them, whether they are on probation or are imprisoned. Likewise, sociologists should consult with criminals in order to identify those social and familiar factors that may be contributing to criminality and deviance. Once such factors have been identified, the criminals will be in much better positions to determine how to move forward with their own lives productively. The custodial maintenance of individuals once they have exited the justice system involves ensuring that such individuals understand the resources that are available to them in the advancement of their own lives and the accomplishment of their own goals. Such an approach is most likely to reduce recidivism rates and transform criminals into productive members of society. Policy changes that would promote such changes include the enactment of job programs for prisoners and programs that would allow convicted felons to have their felon statuses revoked on good behavior and contributions to society.  

    References
  • Bazemore, G., & Schiff, M. (2013). Juvenile justice reform and restorative justice. Routledge.
  • Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. C. (2014). Juvenile delinquency: Theory, practice, and law. Cengage Learning.
  • Ward, T., Fox, K. J., & Garber, M. (2014). Restorative justice, offender rehabilitation and desistance. Restorative Justice, 2(1), 24-42.