Punishment and Corrections
Punishment is any action designed to deprive a person of things of value. (including liberty) because of
some offense the person is thought to have committed (Harlow and Kauzlarich. 2002). Historically. punishment has had four major goal: 1. Retribution is punishment that a person receives for infringing on thoughts of.others 2004). Retribution import a penalty on the offender and is based on the premise-that the punishment should fit the crime: The greater the degree of social harm. the more the offender should be punished. For example. an individual who murders should be punished more severely than one who shoplifts. This function has received renewed interest over the past three decades as some critics have argued that the concept of rehabilitation is not working to reduce criminal behavior. 2. General deterrence seeks to reduce criminal activity by instilling a fear of punishment in the general public. However. we most often focus on specific deterrence. which inflicts punishment on specific criminals to discourage them from committing future crimes. Recently. criminologists have debated whether imprisonment has a deterrent effect. given the fact that many of those who are released from prison become recidivists (previous offenders who commit new crimes). 3. Incapacitation is based on the assumption that offenders who are detained in prison or are executed will be unable to commit additional crimes. This approach is often expressed as "lock em up and throw away the key!" In recent years. more emphasis has been placed on selective incapacitation, which means that offenders who repeat certain kinds of crimes are sentenced to long prison terms (Cole and Smith. 2004).
4. Rehabilitation seeks to return offenders to the community as law-abiding citizens by providing therapy or vocational or educational training. Based on this approach. offenders are treated, not punished. 'so that they will not continue their criminal activity. However. many correctional facilities are seriously understaffed and underfunded in the rehabilitation programs that exist. The job skills (such as agricultural work) that many offenders learn in prison do not transfer to the outside world. nor are offenders given any assistance in finding work that fits their skills once they are released.
Recently. newer approaches have been advocated for dealing with criminal behavior. Key among these is the idea of restoration. which is designed to repair the damage done to the victim and the community by an offender's criminal act (Cole and Smith. 2004). This approach is based on the restorative justice perspective. which states that the criminal justice system should promote a peaceful I and just society; therefore. the system should focus on peacemaking rather than on punishing offenders. Advocates of this approach believe that punishment of offenders actually encourages crime rather than deterring it and are' r of a roaches such as roba' treatment, Opponents of this approach suggest that increased punishment of offenders leads to lower crime rates and that the restorative justice approach amounts to "coddling criminals." However. numerous restorative justice programs are now in operation. and many are associated with community policing programs as they seek to help offenders realize the damage that they have done to their victims and the community and to be reintegrated into society (Senna and Siegel, 2002). Instead of the term punishment, the term corrections is often used. Criminologists George F. Cole and Christopher E. Smith (2004: 409) explain corrections as follows: Corrections refers to the great number of programs. services. facilities. and organizations responsible 'or the management of people accused or convicted of criminal offenses. In addition to prisons and jails. corrections includes probation. halfway houses. education and work releas~ programs, parole supervision, counseling, and community service. Correctional programs operate in Salvation Army hostels, forest camps. medical clinics, and urban storefronts. .
Smith (2004) explain, corrections is a major activity in the tes today. Consider the fact that about 6.5 million adults (more e out of every
twenty men and one out of every hundred women) are under some form of correctional control' TIle rate , of African American males under some form of correctional supervision is even greater (one out of every six African American adult men and one out of three African American men in their twenties). Some analysts believe that these figures are a reflection of centuries of underlying racial,ethnic, and class-based inequalities in the United States as well as sentencing disparities that reflect race-based differences in the criminal justice system. However, others argue that newer practices such as determinate or' mandatory sentences may help to reduce such disparities over tink A determinate sentence sets the term of imprisonment at a fixed period of lime (such as three years) fora specific offense. Mandatory
sentencing guidelines are established by la~ and require that a .person convicted of a specific ~ffense or series of offenses be given ~ penalty within a fixed r~..ge. Although these practices limit judicial discretion in sentencing, many critics are concerned about the effects of these sentencing approaches. Another area of great discord within and outside the criminal justice system is the issue of the death penalty