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Criminal Punishment | Retribution

Criminal punishment, such as criminal sentencing, is a kind of social consequence of crime. The punishment has both legal and social function. Legal function of punishment is reflected in the fact that it serves as a measure of implementation of criminal justice. The social function of punishment is reflected in the fact that it is a mean of fighting crime, protecting society.

The question of the purpose of criminal punishment has always been debatable. In general the goals of criminal sentencing today are (1) revenge, (2) retribution, (3) Just Deserts, (4) deterrence, (5) incapacitation, (6) rehabilitation or reformation, and (7) restoration. (Siegel et al., 2005)

I would like to pay special attention to such goal as retribution, because historically it was retribution for the crime has imposed criminal punishment. Originally criminal punishment was based on the principle of retaliation, under which the penalty must reproduce the damage caused by the crime. Later, retribution was expressed in the special criminal physical and moral suffering, for example corporal punishment, or various kinds of shameful actions. Retaliation by the government to the criminal eliminates anger that arises in people, returns the belief that the state is able to protect them from criminals. But it should be noted, that in itself such punitive treatment does little to prevent crime: many criminals, after sentencing over and over again commit crimes. It should also be noted that some experts recognize that one of the purposes of punishment is to meet the needs of society in “just” interventions for crime, deny the element of retribution in criminal sentencing. However, according to the classical school of criminal law, the purpose of punishment is only to prevent the guilty once again to harm to the public and deter others from committing the crime.


Siegel, L.J., & Senna, J.J. (2005). Introduction to criminal justice. Belmont, California: Thomson Wadsworth.
Siegel Larry J. (2008). Criminology. Cengage Learning