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I don't believe this. Do you believe this?
I believe that a criminal justice system should have the dual aims of preventing further crimes and punishing criminals for crimes already committed.
but I mean it not to.
Criminal justice systems do and should have multiple aims:
- Preventing crime generally by imposing penalties
- Setting and re-inforcing standards of conduct for citizens
- Catching and calling to account those who commit crimes
- Preventing particular individuals from committing crimes in the future
I'm not so convinced by punishment as an end in itself; surely punishment falls to be justified by how well it serves goals like the above.
The second and third ones might be important whether or not they prevent crime. We don't just want to convict murderers of murder in order to prevent other murders, for example.
And why should we wish to call "to account those who commit crimes"?
how to put the first of those in more basic terms. But there is no necessary connection between it and prevention, if that's your real question. You can coherently think it important to be clear about these rules and their moral importance without thinking or even intending that people will actually obey them.
Why do want to call to account those who commit crimes? Well, firstly because it's worth condemning wrongful conduct in itself (again, regardless of whether it'll make other potential criminals sit up and take notice). Secondly, because it's important to re-affirm the claims of particular victims of crime even within a system that generally protects them.
and serve no practical purpose?
Not unless you want to limit 'practical purpose' to harm prevention, which would surely be pretty arbitrary. Having clear conduct rules brings tangible benefits in terms of autonomy, community cohesion and social stability. And re-affirming the claims of victims will usually be helpful in allowing them to overcome the distress associated with victimhood.
Knowing that the perpetrators are being punished.
So we have a reason to punish insofar as punishment serves this purpose. As I said, I prefer pragmatic justifications for punishment of this kind.
Certainly from the perspective of the victim(s), anyway.
It's punishment for the sake of making victims feel better.* To claim that punishment is justified for its own sake is to claim that it would be good in some sense whether or not it had this kind of positive impact on people. Plenty of people think something like this: for example, everyone who's ever said that criminals should be punished because "they deserve it".
(* Of course, there's a whole secondary set of questions here about how and to what extent victim perspectives should influence punishment. Even if they give us a reason to punish, there might be compelling reasons of justice or fairness not to take them into account, etc etc...)
If people say "They deserve it", they are effectively saying that they would be distressed if certain criminals weren't punished. So if judges were to administer punitive sentences to criminals because "They deserve it", it could quite feasibly be said they were doing so to alleviate some general feeling of distress, either actual or hypothetical, from the wider community. By administering punishments purely for the sake of the victims, you're simply placing a restriction on whose feelings of distress as a result of the crime should be considered legitimate.
People may well say that criminals deserve to be punished because they'll be distressed if they're not. But that surely isn't what they MEAN by that. You do something good; I say that you deserve a pat on the back. Surely I don't mean that "I will be distressed if you are not rewarded"?
"By administering punishments purely for the sake of the victims, you're simply placing a restriction on whose feelings of distress as a result of the crime should be considered legitimate."
Tautology. And I'm not sure anyone would argue that punishment would be justified solely to make victims feel better.
To clarify: I mean "to prevent further crimes" in the broadest possible sense.
People can shy away from the fact that part of aims the criminal justice system and in fact the very development of it is based on pure punishment, including punishment in its retributive sense. Why don't people just admit it? I don't know.
A pretty massive aspect of the criminal law is a general sense of public good and ease, and what is it in the "public interest", and that explains why we can have victimless crimes eg. consensual gift giving where one person is being "dishonest" or consensually nailing eachothers testicles to the wall. All this is pretty anti liberal theory. But liberal theory sucks. Just look at recidivism rates. By that token, we have no right to punish and should release all criminals.
now post post post
what does that even mean?
it is possible for someone to be guilty of theft (through acquiring property dishonestly) even if the property was consensually given to them as a gift and thus, within the civil law of property, belongs to them.
The famous case where this arose basically involved a somewhat simple / gullible guy giving a carer £60,000 in gifts over a period of time. There was no suggestion that he lacked the capacity to consent to this or that he had acted under fraud or duress - so the title to the £60,000 passed in law to the carer. But she was still held to be guilty of theft because she'd acted dishonestly in acquiring the money.
Crazy but true.
it's not even just criminal theory that puts emphasis on administering justice by holding to account/punishing in a symblic collective condemnation by society for their *legitimate* grievance. English tort is arguably based on a similar principle of vengence, bringing justice to the wrong-doer. It's totally tortfeasor orientated and almost nothing to do with the victim. This might sound obvious, but most people would argue its main aim is to help the victim through remedies from litigation. Nah. The reason why people are compensated for injury isn't because they have been wronged by a *specific* person who we can prove fell short of the care owed; it's because they have been injured and simply need financial help. They don't need any more help than people who have been hurt through no fault of anyone else, but they are nevertheless rewarded much more by the tort system. The justification for this lies in the fact that someone has done something wrong and they DESERVE to pay the price (although the "price" is almost completely arbitrary). So it's really the same principle.
Interestingly, they have introduced limited compensation in criminal courts.
I was just pointing it out to show it's not so anomalous that criminal law should have this value of punishment, and that if you attack it on a doctrinal level, you're attacking injurylawyers4u
2) What's the difference?
doing community service, or serving their suspended jail sentence?
As well as preventing further crimes, it has to be about preventing people from gaining from the crimes they've already committed. And certainly punishment should be a factor. But I think what a lot of the hardline press miss is the fact that it's right criminals should be appropriately punished is also the exact reason why the victim should be removed from the process of deciding what the punishment is.
Peer-reviewed studies have proven around 3% of the population are pure evil.