Which the criminal justice system is underpinned by prevention and retribution Essay Example
Which the criminal justice system is underpinned by prevention and retribution Essay Example

Which the criminal justice system is underpinned by prevention and retribution Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 4 (1089 words)
  • Published: November 26, 2017
  • Type: Essay
View Entire Sample
Text preview

As per the Home Office, working with individuals and communities, the criminal justice system aims to create a secure, equitable, and inclusive society that offers equal opportunities to all. While ensuring public safety and protection, it emphasizes maintaining a balance between rights and responsibilities. The system involves several stages and decisions ranging from investigating crime to post-sentencing assessments to identify and punish offenders. Unlike in the past when punishment was not the primary goal of the criminal justice system, its current objective is different.

In the 18th century, Beccaria questioned the utilization of severe punishment tactics like torture and execution. These methods mainly impacted the impoverished and were managed by affluent landowners in the Feudal Justice System. Beccaria proposed a shift towards concentrating on criminal acts, rather than individuals, to guarantee uniform treatment for everyone.


This resulted in a significant transformation of the court system from the latter part of the 18th century onward. Newburn (2007:33) emphasized this alteration in his examination of criminal justice.

From the late 18th century to mid-19th century, different strategies were attempted in response to a societal shift. During this period, Beccaria and his classical school of criminology reformed the penal system. Their proposal was for crime to be based on the legal code and committed through rational choice and free will. The classical theory suggested that fear of punishment must be implemented as a deterrent, with the punishment fitting the crime - reflecting utilitarianism. However, due to previous reform failures, prevention and retribution became the primary approach of criminal justice in the 1980s.

The idea of punishing criminals in the present to prevent future crimes was a forward-looking perspective. Bentham shared Beccaria'

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

beliefs that punishment equals pain and should be avoided unless it could result in greater benefits than the inflicted pain. (Ashworth: 2005) The prevention of crimes involves three stages.

The prevention of crime is divided into three levels: primary (which includes neighbourhood watch), secondary (involving deterrence and target hardening), and tertiary (centered around incapacitation). These levels can be classified into two overarching models: the social model, which focuses on reducing the drive to commit or recommit crimes, and the situational model, which aims to minimize opportunities for criminal activity.

The situational model has been covered by multiple media sources, including a February 2004 BBC News story. The piece focused on utilizing CCTV cameras in homes to reduce crime rates. For more information, please visit www.bbc.co.

uk) The prevention of criminal acts involves the use of two types of deterrence: general and specific. General deterrence entails imposing severe penalties on perpetrators to discourage others from committing comparable offenses. To illustrate, in September 2007, Thomas Dolan and Thomas Whittaker were each sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for defacing trains and railway stations with graffiti. A representative from the British transport police explained that this sentence was intended as a deterrent to potential offenders.

(www. bbc. co. uk). Specific deterrence is a type of deterrent that aims to prevent individuals from committing future criminal acts through punishment, including imprisonment, community service, fines, or attendance at centers.

Despite some individuals holding the belief that imprisonment acts as a successful deterrent for crime, opponents use the high frequency of reoffenders to contradict this claim. Nonetheless, incapacitation stands as a frequently employed method of penalty since it directly tackles the danger posed by criminals. This approach

enhances public safety by removing offenders from communal areas. News reports often feature families of victims expressing contentment when an offender is given a prison sentence.

Thomas Towle was sentenced to more than 7 years in prison on March 31st, 2008 for fatally driving dangerously and causing the deaths of 6 children. The families of the victims expressed contentment with the result and told newspapers that justice had been served. (www.)

News.com reports that incarceration is often utilized as a preventative measure as it can greatly diminish the chances of repeat offenses. However, this approach can be costly and lead to severe overpopulation in correctional institutions. As a result, the criminal justice system is considering alternative methods of punishment like rehabilitation, which focuses on providing corrective treatments such as drug and alcohol programs to aid in the offenders' reform.

Substance abuse issues can lead to criminal behavior, so addressing them is one way to prevent crime. This may involve taking anger management courses, as shown by supermodel Naomi Campbell. In 2006, she was convicted of throwing a diamond studded mobile phone at her housekeeper and had to attend court-mandated anger management classes. (source: www.engadget.com)

First-time and non-violent offenders are more likely to receive rehabilitative measures as they are considered easier to reform compared to repeat or violent offenders. The utilitarian perspective focuses on preventing crime, while the retributive approach prioritizes punishing criminal acts and detaining individuals. Guilt plays a significant role in this approach, with the 'just desert' philosophy being an example of retributive theory.

'Just deserts' theory advocates that punishment should correspond to the offense committed, as per leading proponent Andrew Von Hirsch (1986) who argues that

desertion is crucial to the regular judgments of praise and blame. In this view, custodial sentences are sanctioned with the aim of reducing criminal activity, and offenders must receive a penalty that is commensurate with their crime, taking into account the gravity and danger of the act before passing sentence. Nonetheless, there exist multiple criticisms of this theory.

According to Andrew Ashworth (2005:86), placing blame solely on individuals for their criminal actions is unjust, as many offenses can stem from significant societal disadvantages. Critics also contend that determining appropriate sentences for crimes is challenging, and disproportionate sentences frequently occur. The Times newspaper reported an instance of such disproportionate sentencing in June 07, where a man received only 3.5 years in prison for raping a ten-year-old girl.

Small crimes such as graffiti can receive harsh punishments, resulting in disproportionate sentences. The criminal justice system emphasizes prevention and retribution, with a shift towards greater focus on crime prevention. Retribution was previously the primary form of punishment, but with the prison population exceeding 81,000, alternative methods of control are needed. The community is now being relied upon more heavily to help prevent crime, rather than relying solely on the police.

Despite the increased presence of police in the community to restore trust, non-custodial sentences are more common and steps such as asbo's and curfews are implemented to prevent crimes from reaching the criminal justice process. Citizens have more involvement in crime prevention, while the focus of the justice system shifts towards finding effective ways of dealing with offenders rather than simply incapacitating them.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds