Crime and Punishment

Christian attitudes towards Crime

Anything written within the Holy Book is regarded as a law and if someone blatantly disregards them, then they consider it to be a crime. The Ten Commandments is a prime example of this. As even though Adultery is not a crime in the countries law, in the views of Christianity it is still considered to be a sin because it breaks Gods command.

Christian Attitudes towards Punishment

  • In the Old Testament, God is presented as a God of Justice, who gave his people a series of Laws and Commandments that they are expected to follow.
  • If the Old Testament refers to ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’, some might say that scripture highlights the importance of retribution.
  • Where criminal law is similar to religious law perhaps vindication should be considered an aim of punishment in order to show the importance of the laws God has chosen to reveal.
  • Jesus taught us Love (agape) and forgiveness, so it is crucial to allow a fresh start to those who have turned away from sin.
  • Jesus insists that people should pray for God’s forgiveness (e.g. The Lord’s Prayer)and from his cross, Jesus forgave the criminal alongside him, as well as those who carried out his crucifixion.

Capital Punishment (Death Penalty)

Muslim Attitude towards the Death Penalty:

For only two crimes can the death penalty be used as punishment, which is murder and blasphemy. They believe in the Sanctity of Life, where life is valuable. This is the reason for them being mostly against the death penalty.

Christian Attitude towards the Death Penalty:

  • The Lord’s Prayer recognises that everyone sins and needs forgiveness.
  • ‘Love your neighbour’ – Love should be shown to everyone (agape)
  • Ten Commandments (two interpretations. For = Laws are there for a reason. OR Against = Thou Shalt not Kill

Causes of Crime

  • Social Reasons: They break the law to fit in with a ‘gang’ or are pressured by peers. They break the law in order to show off to others. For example, drug addiction or alcohol dependence are because of Social reasons.
  • Environmental Reasons: Where home background tends to influence the crime. Poverty, Bad Education and Deprivation, have been linked to crime. Including Bad experiences in Childhood.
  • Psychological Reasons: Some may be due to human nature, others due to an illness. For example, Mental and Emotional Illnesses, reports show that 90% of young people in prison suffer from Mental Health problems.
  • Drug Addiction: Highest single cause of crime because when under the influence, people’s judgement is impaired. Individual addicts are often drawn into crimes; however there is a low detection rate by the police.

Types of Punishment

  • Community Service – Aims to reform the criminal.
  • Electronic Tagging
  • Prison Sentence
  • Capital Punishment

Aims of Punishment

  • Protection – To protect society from the criminal and to also protect the criminal from causing further harm.
  • Retribution – Making the Criminal pay for what they have done. (e.g. Revenge/An Eye for an Eye)
  • Deterrence – Punishment designed to put other criminals off from committing the crime.
  • Reformation – To try and change the criminal, so they no longer commit the crime.
  • Vindication – To ensure that people respect the law and that they are serious.
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