The Punishment Philosophy

Philosophy of Retribution

The philosophy of punishment includes aspects like retribution, rehabilitation, and incapacitating conditions, among others. The components aim to punish offenders for their socially detrimental behavior. The document will highlight rehabilitation as the proper way to punish offenders. The goal of rehabilitation is to change the offender's behavior and get them ready for a productive existence in the community. The different methods used in rehabilitation are attempted to be explained by various models, including the justice model, the custodial model, and the medical model. The article will then take a look at a theory that explains the components of rehabilitation that characterize the offender and call for change. Punishment philosophy refers to pain inflicted to an offender as the repercussions of his/her actions to another person which are against the law. The theory tries to communicate the desired actions to the society. The punishment seeks to correct the offenders and discourage emulation of such actions by other individuals in the community. According to the book of Ecclesiastes 3:17, every evil act deserves punishment. The sentence seeks to make people responsible for their actions (Moffat, 1994).

Rehabilitation Concept

My concept of preference in punishment philosophy is rehabilitation. Rehabilitation seeks to rectify the behavior of the offender by making them law-abiding citizens (Cullen & Gilbert, 2013, p. 42). The offender undergoes a probation period where the rehabilitation officer ensures proper rectification of the behavior. The concept concentrates on correction of the offender as opposed to punishment of the offenders as presented by concepts such as vengeance and incapacitation. Rehabilitation communicates the belief that people have the ability to turn away from performing evil deeds and changing to positive actions. As much as it is important to punish the offender, it is important to ensure that the mode of punishment corrects the character of the offender. Therefore, rehabilitation is the best method of punishment philosophy due to the extra step in behavior rectification through training and therapy.

Rehabilitation Target

The primary focus of rehabilitation is to rectify the unlawful ways of the offender. The offender might serve a prison sentence and join the rehabilitation center during the probation period. At such a time, the probation officer undertakes the responsibility of guiding the offender towards the agreed social behaviors. Rehabilitation presents an opportunity for the petty offenders to refrain from illegal activities. Imprisonment of such offenders might expose them to bigger criminals in prison making them worse. Therefore, the purpose of rehabilitation as a punishment philosophy concept is to punish the criminals and rectify their behaviors to law-abiding citizens.

Rehabilitation Models

In the custodial model, the offender undergoes two stages in the penalty. The first is incarceration which separates the offender from the society as punishment. Secondly, the offender attends rehabilitation classes to rectify his/her behavior. In the medical model, the probation officers study the offender and decide on the most efficient method of correcting his/her behaviors. The study identifies the psychological or social issues that trigger the behavior. Thus, the rectification of the offender depends on the revelations of the survey. In the justice model, rehabilitation seeks to restore the relationship between the offender and the victim or the society (McConville, 2003, p. 224). The model identifies the issues causing the conflict and addresses the issue through rehabilitation of the offender.

Contemporary Trait Theory

In Psalms 133:1, the Bible states that people should live together in a peaceful and harmonious society (Moffatt, 1994). Crime eliminates the peace since people live in fear of the criminals. Rehabilitation tries to restore the peace through punishment and correction of the offenders to make them law-abiding citizens as the Bible requires for a harmonious society. Rehabilitation capitalizes on contemporary trait theory. The theory describes the actions, emotions, and thoughts of individuals as the determiners of their traits. By using the method, it is possible to understand the offender and use the rehabilitation process to modify the attributes. The theory defines a good or bad person through a close consideration of the elements of the theory such as actions and emotions that define the person.


The criminal justice system has the primary objective of punishing offenders for wrong actions and rectifying their behavior. Punishment without rehabilitation presents a high likelihood of the offender repeating the actions. Therefore, the punishment through incarceration tries to discourage the behavior of the individual as well as discouraging similar activities from the society. The Bible encourages Christians to emulate real actions while avoiding the negative behaviors. The punishment philosophy, using the justice model, seeks to rehabilitate the offender and restore positive relations between the offender and the society. Similarly, it gives the offender a second chance towards leading a positive life.


Cullen, F. & Gilbert, K. (2013). Reaffirming rehabilitation. Waltham, MA: Anderson.

McConville, S. (2003). The use of punishment. Cullompton Portland: Willan.

Moffatt, J. (1994). The Bible : James Moffatt translation : with concordance. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics.

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