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September 16.docx

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University of Guelph
SOC 3740
C Yule

1 of 8 September 16/13 SOC*3740*01 Corrections & Penology Why Punish? Travis Baumgartner Case o Background  22 year old employee with a security company  Struggling with debt  June 2012: shot 4 of his fellow guards in the head while they were filling a cash machine  Drove off with $400 000 but got caught in BC before crossing the border  Plead guilty to 1 count of 1st degree murder and some lesser charges  Crown suggest the robbery was planned, but the murders were not (questionable) o What would be your primary motivation/goal for punishing Baumgartner  Punishment!  Rehabilitative efforts not particularly applicable o What sort of punishment is most suitable?  Incarceration  2 of the victim's families called for capital punishment o Judgement  Life sentence with no chance of parole for 40 years  This is the toughest sentence in Canada since the country's last execution  Judge said he had to make sure than Baumgartner never hurts anyone again (incapacitation) but also give him some hope for freedom to ensure good behavior behind bars  Also said his crimes had to be denounced Why do we punish? What purposes or rationales does punishment serve? o Compensation to families o Deterrence: of the offender and others o Rehabilitation o Denunciation: teaches wrongdoers about society's norms and sets an example o Incapacitation o Maintaining social order/harmony/civility o Making wrongdoers pay back society o Repair harm o Social control, protect interests of the wealthy In order to assess whether punishment is successful, we have to look at the goals. What are the most important objectives our penal system should achieve? 2 of 8 o Anthony Doob  More of a focus on rehabilitation for young offenders but also important for both  Main goal is to deter offenders  Not as concerned about keeping young offenders separated from society  All of the purposes are fairly highly rated  The public thinks all of the purposes should be achieved o This is a big challenge- it is a complex issue and some of the purposes conflict with one another ex. expressing disapproval and rehabilitation o It is difficult to figure out what the top objective is Criminal Code Sentencing 718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives: (a) to denounce unlawful conduct; (b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences; (c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary; (d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders; (e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and (f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgmentof the harm done to victims and to the community. 718.1. A sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender. Theories of Punishment Retributive o Backward looking: only focuses on past behaviour o Based on the idea that punishing the wrong doer is a moral duty o There is no consideration of what the punishment will achieve in the future o Punishment is good and justified in and of itself o Criminal behavior upsets the peaceful balance of society and punishment ultimately helps to restore the balance o "just deserts" o Denunciation o Human beings have free will and are capable of making rationale decisions  If you have an insane offender, they should not be punished  Anyone who does make a conscious choice to commit a crime should be punished o Moral bases 3 of 8  Punishment is justified because an offender deserves it: sees the state as having a moral obligation to punish the offender, only focuses on what the offender has done in the past (the future does not factor into the equation)  Principle of lex talionis (an eye for an eye): in the past, an offender would be subjected to similar treatment as his victim was put through  Respect for free will: punishment shows respect to the offender to the extent that it allows the offender to pay their debt to society and then return to society free of guilt and stigma o Modern retributivist theory = just deserts  Key elements: proportionality, desert  Proportionality holds that punishment must be relative to the offense - how much should the state punish?  The element of desert focuses on the element of who should be punished: claims that only those who are responsible for harm should be punished. It is possible that some people commit crimes but are not deserving of punishment ex. mentally ill, young children, self defense  We don't want to be punishing innocent people  The notion of desert allows for the recognition of culpability o Perspective strengths  Sense of justice  Reduces discretion: rids consideration of personal characteristics (such as race, socioeconomic status) and limits the decision based solely on the crime committed  Protection from extra punishment that could result from looking into the future and predicting additional offending - with this perspective you only get punished for the crime at hand o Perspective criticisms  It can be difficult to figure out how to rank views of seriously - what crimes are worse than others and in what circumstances? Becomes murky after homicide  Where do we anchor punishment it terms of the most severe and least severe? Is life in prison appropriate? Is the death penalty okay? It's difficult to say what crimes deserve what punishments  Doesn't give the courts the power to punish dangerous and persistent offenders: ignoring the future likelihood of reoffending can result in a lesser sentence and thus put the public in danger once the offender is released  Ignores inequalities in society: we live in an unequal in society and if just deserts aims to treat everybody the same, punishments may become unequal Utilitarian o Seeks to punish offenders to discourage offenders and prevent future crime o Considered forward thinking o We can only justify punishment if it achieves some greater good such as reducing future crime 4 of 8 o Punishment should be a social benefit and should contribute to making society better o Deterrence o "consequentialist" - focus on future consequences for both the offender and for society o Example: if you have a very old or sick offender, it makes no sense to sentence him to a 25 year sentence o This theory is largely the product of classical theorists  Sees criminals as rationale actors capable of making choices  The moral aim is to maximize human happiness and minimize human suffering  Should only inflict as much punishment as is required to reduce future crime Denunciation o Expressive and educative function  Expressive focuses on the need that society feels to denounce certain intolerable crimes  Educative function works to confirm the basic values of society o About expressing intolerance to the offender's behavior o Works to morally educate members of society by showing a certain behavior is wrong o Denunciatory punishments are typically harsh and must be publicized in order to achieve the educatory function o Denunciation theory is a sort of hybrid of retribution and utilitarianism o Examples of denunciation  Historically, denunciation was made very public and spectators could come watch  It was thought this sent a strong cultural message and helped society bond  Contemporary punishments include public sex offender logs that notify the community of their presence and functions as a shaming process o Criticisms  Labelling from public denunciation  There isn't always a consensus regarding what should be denounced  Emotional/expressive reactions to crime may lead to severe and inequitable punishments - can turn the focus onto a particular offender and how you feel about that particular person (might lead to inequality, certain people d
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