“The greatest good for the greatest number” should be the guiding principle in every social action. The idea is that in every situation, the common good of the members of the society should supersede the will of an individual. This is the most important principle, followed by prevention of crime, which is more important than punishment. Prevention of crime saves the society a lot of costs, to individual victims, and to society as a whole (Beccaria). Hence, policies should be put in place to prevent the occurrence of crime in the first place as opposed to waiting the crime to take place in order to punish the offender. Incarceration ought to be the basis of a penalty structure, and it should be given on the basis of individual characteristics. This is the basis for categorizing prison populations based on gender, age, and offense.
In the event of a crime, the injury is to society and not to individuals. Based on the gravity of the crime, the injury is determined. Crime is fundamentally a violation of the laws that are put in place to ensure law and order in society. Hence, in the event that the law is violated, the society is largely affected. There should be elimination of secret accusations and torture as the legal basis for the criminal justice system. This forms the basis for the criminal justice system, especially the judiciary in the observance of constitutional rights to a fair trial. Finally, following judgment, punishment for crime should be viewed as deterrence for crime and not a form of social revenge (Beccaria). Hence, when the criminal is sentenced, it is not because the society is avenging the crime, but it is to deter other members of society from committing crime.
The History of Corrections Relate to Corrections Today
The history of corrections is marked by the efforts to punish crime as a means of deterring others from committing the same crime. It was also based on retribution where the offender had to get exactly what he or she deserved. Corrections evolved from the ancient days where severe punishments such as chopping off hands were encouraged in case someone was caught stealing. The punishment was meant to make sure that the person paid for the crimes and that they could not have the opportunity to steal again (Latessa 23). The evolution of incarceration facilities emerged from the 18th century where the offender could be held for a particular time awaiting trial. Serious punishment would follow the judgment. While the forms of corrections have evolved, the lessons from the past are common in the modern-day correctional facilities.
Incarceration has always had common goals. One of them is deterrence where punishment would deter others from committing the same crime for fear that they could undergo the same fate. Incapacitation also played out because as long as the person involved was incarcerated, he or she would not have the chance to commit the crime again. While other goals remain important, punishment for crime is the main lesson that is borrowed from history (Latessa 29). The system is based on punishing the offender, even as rehabilitation plays out, to pay for the crime and also to prevent them from continued crime. In fact, punishment is the goal of corrections that has persisted over a long history of the criminal justice system. It is why correction facilities are created in society.
Beccaria, Cesare., “Essays on Crimes and Punishment”.
Latessa, Edward J., and Paula Smith. Corrections in the Community. Routledge, 2015.