The United Sates government has various theories

To help the sentencing procedures bring order to the nation

The United States government has several theories about punishment. There are two broad approaches to punishment. There are two basic types of punishment: utilitarianism and majority rule. The primary purpose of utilitarianism is to punish offenders in order to discourage such offenses in the future (Corlett, pages 21-29).

Although the majority rule attempts to punish criminals because offenders deserve to be punished in the interests of many people

This research paper aims to elaborate the two types of punishment theories in detail as far as the relationship between the theory and the United States law. Although, the principle of utility does not provide a sufficient ground for the obligations of justice, however, utilitarianism is the principle of the equality of worth of every person (Corlett, pages 21-29). Democracy gives individuals equal abilities to advance their concerns when decisions concerning the terms of association are made. Democratic method is usually to decide by majority rule, which is a genuinely egalitarian rule because it gives each person the same chance as every other to affect the outcome. However, majority rule may abandon minority's opinion and rights. Although some shortcomings exist on majority rule, why is it still used in many countries? This paper will offer some reasons of necessary of majority rule by analyzing utilitarianism, which is a basis of the majority rule.

Utilitarianism and Majority Rule


Under utilitarianism theory, the available parts of the law are used to maximize the satisfaction to the society. Criminal issues and punishment are always inconsistent with the satisfaction; hence, they should be maintained at the lowest level as possible (Corlett, pages 21-29). Utilitarian philosophy is well informed that there is no society exists without the occurrences of crime at any given time because people are prone to mistakes that need to be corrected by the law. The correction made on the offenders is always done by imposing punishment based on the rule of law.

The utilitarianism theory is considered as "consequentialist" in nature due to the reason that it identifies that punishment has repercussion for both the offender and the society thus it holds the whole good produced by the sentence is a must to be more than the entire evil (Jerome, pages 299-302). Therefore, the punishment should limited. One example to prove that punishment is not supposed to be unlimited is the scenario where the inmate is released from prison because the prisoner is suffering from a chronic disease such as loss of consciousness due to heart failure. Hence, the death of a prisoner is imminent because the continued confinement does not serve the society due to reason that prisoner is not able to commit crimes as far as the prisoner's health condition is concerned.

In the United States, utilitarian punishment theory was designed by certain law articles to point out the punishment for a given criminal conduct mainly to deter the future criminal behaviors. Discouragement of criminal conduct acts in precise and general level. The general deterrence implies that punishment is supposed to discourage other people from engaging criminal deeds. Thus the punishment acts as a tool to show an example of the entire society, and it enlightens people that in case they commit a crime, they will be punished according to the rule of law (Jerome, pages 299-312).

Specific deterrence operates in such a way that the punishment is imposed on the criminal to prevent him/her from committing the same mistake in future. Specific deterrence operates in two forms. The first way is that a criminal can be put in jail for a given period to stop him or her from doing the same crime. The second option is designing unpleasant condition that will deter the offender from repeating the same criminal conduct in future.

Another rationale applied under utilitarian is the rehabilitation of the offenders. The principle purpose of the rehabilitation is to ensure future crimes are eliminated in a way that it does not harm the offenders (Mill, John, and Andrew). The offenders are believed to be evil people but based on the rehabilitation rationale; offenders are supposed to be shaped in a friendly way to make the offender realizes crime is not good for their life for the sake of the society safety. Rehabilitation entails treatment of the offenders from the afflictions such as the chronic violent behavior, chemical dependency, and mental illness (Jerome, pages 299-314). The treatment can help the offenders gain their normal life features such as understanding the demerits of crime in the society and their lives. Rehabilitation process involves the education of the criminals; hence, the offenders can easily acquire skills and knowledge that are required in the current and future job market.

Majority Rule

Majority is the counter theory to utilitarian. Under majority, the criminals are punished for their criminal conducts due to the reason that they deserve to be punished because they are offenders. The balance of the society is normally affected by the hostility brought by the criminal behaviors, and therefore, punishment is considered the best technique for restoring peace balance in the society (Jerome, pages 299-302). Majority theory of punishment concentrates s on the crime as the key reason for punishing the offenders. Utilitarian theory imposes punishment based on the benefits that will be gained by the society of the punishment imposed on the offender, while majority theory focuses backward on the wrongdoing as the ground for imposing punishment on the offender.

Majority rule advocate that people have free determination and able of making sane decisions. Therefore, an offender of is medically considered insane or incompetent is not supposed to be punished because he or her is prone to insane decisions because it is sanity which makes people act right or wrong (Corlett, pages 21-29). Thus, people who make choices at their consent to disturb the balance of peace in the society are required to be punished accordingly.

Majority consist of many morals basis. One of the bases for majority is the reason that offender punishment is justified as far as vengeance is concerned. Vengeance is justified because an offender always forces the society to suffer thus the wrongdoer is necessary to be punished as a way of making he or her suffer. In the Old Testament of the Judeo-Christian Bible, the scripture advocates that when a man triggers a scar in his neighborhood, he must be equally disfigured; for instance, the Bible embraces an eye for an eye, fracture for fracture, and a tooth for a tooth. In America, insecurity has been reduced because the majority rule has been the system used by both private and public security bodies (Corlett, pages 21-29). Discouraging wrongdoers using punishment is considered ideal in the states where insecurity is high because protecting the society against criminals is the basis for peace and development. Applying majority theory helps the government to scare off the wrongdoers, unlike the system where criminals are judged and punished lightly as compared to the harm caused to the people in the society.

The justification of the majority is contributed by another theorist in the physiological field because theorists believe that protecting the society against wrongdoers is imposing the legitimate rights of the wrongdoer and the society (Corneo, Giacomo, and Frank). The society can show its respect for the offender through punishment. Punishment makes the wrongdoer pay the debt to the society.

The majority justify punishment based on a two prior norms and epistemological. Prior norms are the basis for the majority theory because a criminal deserves to be punished and there should be no considering moral because no moral outweighs the wrongdoer's criminal desert (Corlett, pages 21-29). Though it is arguable if the offender always deserve punishment and it is arguable whether there is a certain punishment to be imposed to the wrongdoer to pay the exact debt owing to the society.

Weaknesses in Utilitarianism and Majority Rule

There are some weaknesses and caveats for both utilitarian and majority theories of punishment. Utilitarian has been criticized because most people believe that utilitarian impairs the criminal law. It is argued that this form of consequentialist philosophy of punishment is almost similar or can be equated to tax. The utilitarian theory has some caveats regarding the reason that it can be used as the scapegoating, exemplary fairness and at some point; innocent people are punished especially where utilitarian is used to give societal good (Weiner, Graham, & Reyna, 1997). In other scenarios, utilitarian impartiality could be considered under extensive and justified that under particular conditions, it is not essential to criminalize given serious offenses. Utilitarian also can be considered weak to justify offense because of some deter, rehabilitation, and incapacitation are difficult to measure and demonstrate; hence using the utilitarian theory of punishment to make justice to the offender and society has not a strong basis for proving certain punishment to the wrongdoer.

The utilitarian theory assumes the rights of the minority because it focuses on the interest of the majority in the society. The best punishment is the one who is a concern in perspective of the minority and the majority (Weiner, Graham, & Reyna, 1997). The minority always feel punished partially for the sake of pleasing the majority in the society. However, the wrong doers are supposed to be punished, though the punishment should not be based on the happiness of the offended society, it should be due to the justification and partiality. The utilitarian approach assumes individual circumstances. Doing wrong as an individual does not amount to the debt to the whole society because it is not all offenses amounts to the debt to the entire society rather to the offended person only. Therefore, the utilitarian theory is weak regarding considering the individual circumstance and the favoring the interest of the majority in the society.

The majority theory has been criticized by the ambiguity of the real meaning of desert. There are some of the right ways of prosecuting and judging the offenders, including the discrepancy on the ordinal and cardinal proportionality. The majority theory does not consider the impacts that are brought by the punishment to the families of the punished criminals. Most families have been suffering especially when the head of the family or the breadwinner is sentenced based on the majority grounds. It is significant for the court to consider the families of the criminals because it is not fair to impose heavy judges to the criminal. The majority is considered partial to a certain extent because it is clear that two wrongs (crime and punishment) do not make a right (Weiner, Graham, & Reyna, 1997). Therefore, it is important to note that when a criminal is punished wrongly, it amount to the compromise of the court judgment.

Majority theory insists on the past because it considers the current case based on the past similar offenses. Therefore, it cannot be realistic because it is normal for similar mistakes to recur (Weiner, Graham, & Reyna, 1997). The persons judged under the majority suffer the punishments based on the past, which means the consequences of majority theory might be too slight.

Similarities in Utilitarianism and Majority Rule

Some similarities exist between utilitarian and majority punishment. One of the similarities is that both punishment theories discuss the punishment of the offenders in the society. The second similarity is that both theories are concerned with giving the appropriate punishment to the wrongdoers and provides the basis for punishment (Weiner, Graham, & Reyna, 1997). Therefore, both punishments are explaining the importance of keeping calm in the society to avoid the disruption of peace in the community for the sake of the nation. In both punishment theories, the level of fear, rehabilitation, and isolation are seen to be dominant. The beliefs o f the people in the society contribute to the kind of punishment the people are subjected. Many of the punishments the people are given depends more on the cultural beliefs and other aspects of the right acts in the society. A majority of the people might be supporting an action but the entire community has consent on what is best and accepted in the society. The values given priority in the community are followed fort before alternatives are given preference. However good the other forms of issuing punishment to the people can be implemented, rehabilitation seems to be the best solution in either case because after the given time in the rehabilitation center the people come out while changed for the better. Instead of the affected people receiving punishment from the guardians and caregivers, the set laws are used to give guidelines on how to handle different cases. However, many of the cases have exceptions that when such conditions are met, the individuals affected go free without punishment. The aim of all the theories is to give punishment to the people who do the condemned acts in the society.


In conclusion, both the utilitarian and majority theories are serving as the basis for reducing the rate of crime in the society. Crime case is deterred by both theories because the punishment imposed on the guilty person are heavy and makes the criminals realize the disadvantages of causing harm to others. In the United state, the punishment should be embraced to reduce the crime cases because currently most prisons are filled with the prisoners thus it will be better if the government enlightens the community on the adverse impacts of crime regarding the social, political and the economy of the nation. Courts should also consider revising some of the rules to reduce the number of prisoners because it is costly to keep prisoners thus affects the government expenditure on security and prisoners maintenance.

Works Cited

Corlett, J A. Responsibility and Punishment. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2001. Print.

Corneo, Giacomo, and Frank Neher. Democratic Redistribution and Rule of the Majority. Mannheim [u.a.: Sonderforschungsbereich/Transregio 15, 2015.

Hall, Jerome. General Principles of Criminal Law. Clark (NJ: The Lawbook Exchange, 2006. Print.

Mill, John S, and Andrew Bailey. Utilitarianism. , 2016. Print.

Weiner, B., Graham, S., & Reyna, C. (1997). An attributional examination of majority versus utilitarian philosophies of punishment. Social Justice Research, 10(4).

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