My Viewpoint on Punishment Essay Example

Based off of Kant’s viewpoint on punishment, he feels as though punishment should be served for the sake of mercy and justice. Retributive theorists would claim that the crime should be based on the acts committed, and the people involved. They tend to look at the pain the victim endured and form a prison sentence based off of that. It is also common for a theorist to believe that punishment should be given to obtain a civilized society and or community. Crime often leads to an unhappy community, and what Utilitarian theorists believe is that to gain this happiness and focus on leading to a crime-free society, we must punish the ones creating the misery. They look to reform criminals for the greater good of society and to lock away criminals for the potential harm that could be done against citizens already occupying that area. Utilitarians want to rehabilitate individuals not only to prove to others that committing a felony will result in jail time but also to bring the most happiness for everyone, including the criminal. They hold that even if a man is not guilty, and he is the only one in the community that could’ve committed said crime, that throwing him in prison will maximize the good in society and keep the people at ease,instead of finding the real criminal. I believe that this sets for an extremely unrest society in the future, as helping only for the sake of a community will result in more uneasiness. The theory I find myself swaying more towards is the Retributive theory. I feel as though the one way to punish people and find success rates is to subject the prisoner to the similar pain he inflicted amongst the victim. Although “paying compensation is unpleasant, its purpose is to benefit the victim or internalize external costs” (Binder 6), which will help the victim rehabilitate over the crime. Their main goal is to obtain mercy from the felony and revenge for the victim. While this theory strongly supports malevolence, the prisoner will be more aware of his actions. Some would say that the retributive theory does not focus on the social interest and revolution of society, rather it focuses on toughening crime and creating private prisons. The only real way to rehabilitate prisoners is to act in a hastily way. While I agree that punishment should be established on the ones who commit the crime and less on the ones who don't, I also believe that rehabilitating a prisoner can be done through incarceration if there are resources there for them. I disagree when Utilitarians say throwing a prisoner in jail will reconstruct them because they are confined to a tiny space, away from society. I consider that while the confined space is a factor into this, their improvement as functioning human beings is dependent on the specific resources are given to them, such as therapy, group meetings, meditation etc. By simply taking a person and placing them in a jail cell, with no capital to become better, they won’t flourish. That is one aspect of the Utilitarianism theory that I stand by because although they do these things for the betterment of society, Retributivist does it for the betterment of the person themselves. The felony will understand his crime better if he goes through something similar to it and sits in his cell questioning it every day, but he will not be rehabilitated do this confinement. There's a difference there, that even though placing someone in a restrained area and keeping them away from society may work psychologically, it will twist them up even more if they are not given capital to fix their thoughts. They can ponder away all day and night, but the real band aid is assistance. I think that if the right applications were given to the prisoners rotting away in their cells, then yes, the prisoner can be released back into society, but it takes more than just rehabilitation to release a criminal. In Mens Rea or the guilty mind, it is critical to have a law based on the person's mental ability to think correctly. A powerful aspect of crime is the mental component of the criminals. Determining whether a person can understand the dangers of the crime is based on the rule of sanity or insanity. In, Mullaney v. Wilbur, the offender was given a lesser-included offense of manslaughter. The court upheld that “a statute defining intent to kill as the mental element of murder, and allowing the defendant to mitigate liability down to manslaughter by proving the excuse of extreme emotional disturbance” (Binder 164), which essentially started a trickle-down theory where there had to be a strong distinction between excuse and justification. We cannot put people away who are clinically insane because most do not have the mental capability to understand the crime they committed or the outcomes that resulted after it. They cannot be rehabilitated in a prison, rather a psychiatric home that can assist in helping the felonies with their mental illness. Whereas in strict liability, they believe that there should be no required mental state in order to determine whether someone should be punished or not. Strict liability deters from the importance of the guilty mind requirement. It states that the unawareness the felony might have of his or her illegal actions should result in criminal liability even if he or she is deemed insane. There are instances where mentally ill people will rape either a man or woman without understanding why. It is inefficient and inhumane to lock someone way based on their crime if they do not have the inability to understand it. On the contrary, I can see how if someone is raped, someone is raped and a crime has been committed, and while that is true, my position is that the person should be evaluated for insanity to determine whether the action was premeditated, or if there was no “intention to injure” (Binder 138). In other cases, for instance, the one in “I am a Killer”, where Mendez killed those 3 innocent people because he said the devil told him to, the ability to be rehabilitated in prison is slim from both from the utilitarians point of view and retributive. He needs to be put somewhere where he can achieve the most help to become a functioning human and address his illness at stake. The guilty mind requirement in criminal law and act requirement is both necessary and important to maintain a civilized society. It is better to catch the mentally ill and help them, then confine them to a jail cell where assistance is limited. They aren’t people who can tell right from wrong or come in touch with their common sense.

How do attempt work with the guilty mind and act?

Attempts work with the guilty mind and act by initiating that there had to be a physical act that was done and knowledge of this act in order for it to be illegal. For instance, you can attempt to kill someone and be deemed insane, but if the attempt does not turn into murder,and the criminal doesn't try to kill that person a second time, then it can be said that the guilty mind act requirement is fulfilled. Fletcher writes that “crime consists of an attack against a tangible human interest. The crime succeeds when the goods of life, limb, property, and freedom fall hostage to hostile intentions.” (Fletcher 171). He brings in an important point asking, “If the would-be offender is about to kill or rape, why not stop him at that point and convict him of the crime? Thus was born the idea of attempted crime.” (Fletcher 171). In order to attempt a crime, there must be an intention to follow through and in Mens Res, it says that the mental aspect to commit a crime is important in determining whether the crime had an intention or if the person simply was not capable enough of understanding their actions. Attempting to do something can lead to an actual situation but determining the frame of mind of the individual is important to provide a case of an attempt. Attempt is something that can be seen as controversial. Many believe that because attempt is not a completed action that the offender should not be charged as harshly. The failure of a crime could be due to interference or panic. Although the crime was not fulfilled, the person still had the intentions to commit the so-called crime and, therefore, deserved punishment based off of that. While I hold true that the death penalty should not be given to someone who merely tried to kill someone, many theorists believe quite the opposite. They “hold the view that the consummation of an intended offense is merely a matter of chance and therefore not a proper basis for aggravating the penalty designated for the attempt.” (Fletcher 173). In some cases, the defendant will have to have physically taken steps towards committing the murder, regardless of his/her premeditated strategy. Other cases ask for a more diverse range of actions that had to have happened in order to convict the felon, such as a written plan. The problem with this is, attempt on numerous occasions is only attempt by accident. Many criminals will confess saying that they slipped as they were aiming the gun or the person moved before they could shoot. My argument is that, although the person missed or it was simply moral luck, there was intent to commit a crime, therefore they should get a lengthy prison sentence. Even though I do believe that the criminal should not get the death penalty for killing someone, I do argue that they should get a sentence close to life for nearly killing someone. While the physical act was not done, the thought and intent was and that should be enough to put someone away for a long time. I do think that Similarly to attempt, conspiracy follows behind. Conspiracy is the beginning parts of attempt. It is the thought before the pursuit. Conspiracy would be an agreement to do the crime either with others or with yourself, via a written plan. On the basis of Mens Rea, if the person did not have a written plan, or any signs of conspiracy and simply did the act based off of mental instability such as God or the Devil telling him to, then he should not be put away for an extended amount of time, rather any time at all. Some theorists believe that “incapacitation is arguably best served by arresting and incarnating as soon as dangerous disposition has been reliably identified, without regard to the suspects conduct” (Binder 293), therefore this will prevent crime from increasing and neighbors to become corrupt. It is also important to note that in the Model Penal Code, “once the actor must desist or perform acts that he realizes would incarcerate him if all external facts were known, in all probability a former state of mind exits” (Binder 295). This is critical because it shows that if the pertperturer knows his actions are illegal and he still goes through with it, he was capable enough of committing a serious crime and might do so in the future and the only way to deter these people from society is to catch them while you can. The likelihood that the felony will execute yet another crime and successfully follow through is very scary.


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