Criminal Punishment

What defines a criminal? Should committing one crime mark someone as a criminal forever? Does a given crime necessarily deserve a given punishment? Is the purpose of a punishment to restore justice or to deter a repeat offense?

By necessity, the law must make some broad claims about what is or is not legal, and if a law is broken, there are guidelines as to acceptable enforcements. Some leeway exists to consider the specifics of the case, such as the motivations and intentions of those involved, but how, if at all, should such circumstantial factors influence the legal outcome?

To answer that, we need to consider the following: What is the goal of our justice system? Is it simply to punish, or is it to reform and rehabilitate? What are some principles that should guide our decisions about what punishments “fit” a given crime?