Law and Order continued....
There is no doubt that many people keep within the law
because of the fear of punishment if they step out of line. There is a relevant
statement to this effect made by Moses in the Old Testament - 'Israel shall
hear and fear, and shall do no more wickedness'. The New
Testament continues the thought of deterrence even in the matter of Church
discipline. The young Christian minister Timothy was instructed to 'rebuke
those that sin so that others may also fear.
A judge of course has guidelines when administering
punishment. He cannot make it unduly heavy just for the fact of deterrence, but
usually has an option when dealing with a particular crime. It can say merit
five or ten years imprisonment and according to its severity the judge will
In recent years the British judiciary has had to deal with
cases (Myra Hindley, of the infamous moors murders for instance) where
criminals were sentenced to a specific number of years imprisonment, but
because of the enormity of the offence and the pressure of public opinion, have
had their sentences lengthened. However heinous the crimes were one would feel
that this alteration is unjust.
Then there is the question of capital punishment. Since 1961
Britain ceased hanging for murder, although there is strong evidence that a
referendum from the country would indicate that capital punishment should be
brought back for particular categories of murder. It is must admitted however
that if capital punishment is advocated as a deterrent to would-be criminals,
the number of homicides was not less under the former regime when the death
penalty was operating. This does not mean that deterrence is irrelevant,
because it is not the sole defining factor. The real issue is that punishment
should be adequate and just.
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