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Introduction Within the English legal system there are four main theories of punishment retribution deterrence incapacitation and rehabilitation The retributive theory looks back to the crime and punishes because of the crime The remaining three all look forward to the consequences of punishment and thereby hope to achieve a reduction in crime They are therefore often termed consequentialist or utilitarian theories The boundaries between these theories are far from clear containing sub-categories many of which are perceived quite differently by different writers To establish why it is we punish each theory will have to be examined closely Why do we punish 2 Retribution The term retribution can be used in several senses It can indicate vengeance or expiration however it is today more commonly associated with giving the offender his just deserts and using punishment as a censure or denunciation The desire for vengeance theory is that the punishment satisfies the victims desire for vengeance and the state is exacting vengeance on their behalf to prevent private retaliation Such a view finds little support today Expiration requires the offender to work off his guilt he must be purified through suffering The essence of the expiratory view is that in suffering his punishment the offender has purged his guilt has paid for his crime and that his account with society is therefore clear The focus is on the past crime with the attempt to wipe the slate clean These ideas largely stem from religious influences on our culture However a deeper psychological explanation has been argued to exist underlying the offenders need for expiration Guilt is a state of tension which gives rise to a need for the removal of this tension From the time we are children we are conditioned to expect this relief through punishment Whilst society may offer the chance of
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