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2.2 Crime threatens our personal safety, our property and ultimately the social coherence of society.
Another way to describe this distinction is to separate purposes of sentencing from purposes at sentencing (Morris & Tonry, 1990).
While, in the different approaches, the general justification of the practice of punishment is always a normative matter, the purposes at sentencing can be handled in a descriptive or prescriptive manner.
In Section 2.2, the relevance of philosophies and theories of punishment is discussed.
In Section 2.3, the different approaches are categorised under the headings of retributivism, utilitarianism, restorative justice and mixed approaches.
The third context within which penal actions can be identified is in public life (i.e., on the streets, in shops, public parks).
The fourth and final domain is within the framework of intermediary social groups in society, such as the family, work or school.They set a critical standard against which the practice of punishment can be measured and scrutinised on a regular basis (Duff & Garland, 1994).It may be naive, however, to expect an explicit unified philosophical theory of punishment to govern both the justification of punishment and the aims at sentencing for all people involved, in each and every case.Even the very threat of legal punishment requires a justification because “it is itself the infliction of a special form of suffering – often very acute – on those whose desires are frustrated by the fear of punishment” (Hart, 1963, p. Next to a justification of the general practice of punishment, we need to have consistent ideas on whom to punish, and how to punish (Hart, 1968).[iii] So when we do have a moral justification for the practice in general, what exactly do we wish to achieve when meting out punishment in concrete cases?These are the issues that are dealt with by the philosophy and theory of punishment.[iv] The distinction between the general justification of the practice of punishment and the specific aims of punishment in concrete cases is essential for a good understanding of the different philosophical and theoretical approaches (Jörg & Kelk, 1994).The theoretical and philosophical debates on the justification and goals of punishment that have ensued, cover a vast area of social, political and legal thinking.This chapter aims at providing a concise overview of the various approaches.[i] It aims to highlight the key arguments from the most influential approaches, frequently by discussing the works of influential writers in these fields.Although we do not expect judges and other officials involved in everyday practice to justify all their decisions in these terms, philosophical theories of punishment provide rationalisations for the practice of punishment in most discussions on the subject.Besides this, we expect normative accounts of punishment to form the basis of a systematic and consistent sanctioning practice.In the subsequent sections, 2.4 through 2.7, each category is discussed in some detail.The ideas of several influential writers are presented for illustrative purposes and different directions within each category, each with their own merits and problems, are briefly touched upon.