Crime and Punishment in America

Crime and Punishment in America

Crime and Punishment in American Society

Most Americans in our country have been affected by crime either personally or have a close loved one who has been affected. Our politicians and government have tried to set standards to either deter crime from hapening or adequately punish those who choose to commit crimes. Examing if the types of punishment imposed ar effective in preventing repeat offenders or detering a certain crime is a true reflection upon if our justice system is meeting its goals.

Retribution is perhaps society’s oldest response to a crime. It is basically pay back or the eye for an eye type of behavior. This is more of a personal response to a crime and not imposed by a justice system. Street violence is a good exampl of retribution. Often those who inform police of illegal activity face retribution from either the person they "snitched" on or one of their friends or gang members.

America has by far the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. The prison system is overcrowded, incredibly in effective, and incredibly expensive. America’s hunger for retribution is the main driver in this scenario, and has resulted in some extreme absurdities. In one particular case, a criminal received a fifty year to life sentence for stealing $150 worth of video tapes. (Lockyer v. Andrade, 123 S. Ct. 1166 (2003).)

Financial retribution is common and comes by way of fines or fees associated with an offense, but some believe this is not the best way to impose justice as the monetary amount must somehow coincide with the offense. Also the offenders financial staus is most likely unknown. According to Jacqueline Martin "In the case of fines, the financial position of an offender is not taken into account, leading to situations where an unemployed man and a millionaire could be forced to pay the same fine, creating an unjust situation; either the fine would be too punitive for the unemployed offender, or not large enough to punish the...

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