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Objectives of Punishment Essay

The objective of punishment in the criminal justice system it to enforce a particular penalty on a person who is in violation of the law; such enforcement should have an effect so great that it will deter that person from continuing to violate the law and prevent other offenses (Foster, 2006). Punishment is based on four major objectives; deterrence, incapacitation, reformation, and rehabilitation. Deterrence is based on discouraging a person from committing a criminal act, the pain and fear of punishment are enough to scare a person from following through with such acts. Incapacitation is achieved by protecting society from the criminal by incarcerating the person so he or she can no longer be a threat to others. Reformation is the act of changing a person while he or she is incarcerated in order to help a person become a law abiding citizen. This happens through programs that are put in place to help a person understand the law and that it is there to protect society. Rehabilitation is gained by therapeutic and educational programs that help the offender become more aware of the rules and regulations so he or she can be prepared to be a part of the society again.

The rehabilitation process may help the offender find a job so that he or she may feel as if they are a part of society and this is a more permanent solution to this issue; whereas, reformation may be a temporary fix to the problem (Foster, 2006 pg. 67). Punishment assists with achieving institutional objectives in the criminal justice system by offering and incorporating programs that can deter criminals from further committing crime. Some of these programs may consist of therapeutic, educational, and work-related punishments that help reform and rehabilitate the offender; by doing this, the criminal justice system is showing the offender how to become an active part of society while knowing right from wrong. These programs can have temporary or long-term effects on the offender, either way; they are productive in refining justice.


Foster, B. (2006). Corrections: The Fundamentals. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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