Kant's Perspective on Crime, Punishment, and Justice Essay

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Punishment is the suffering, pain, or loss that serves at retribution. Others also say it is “the authoritative imposition of something unpleasant on a person in response to a behavior deemed to be wrong by an individual or group” (Hugo & McAnany, 2010). Some question when and why we should punish. Though easy to state, this question is difficult to answer and has lead to a variety of models of punishment. In Kant’s article Metaphysics of Morals, he discusses the importance of punishment and its correspondence to crime, the right to punish, and when to grant clemency. In this paper, I will refer to the articles Critique of Political Reason and Metaphysics of Morals, and I will discuss Kant’s perspective on crime, punishment, and justice. …show more content…
For example, Kant states, “If he has committed a murder he must die. Here there is no substitute that will satisfy justice. . . Accordingly, every murderer – anyone who commits murder, orders it, or is an accomplice to it – must suffer death; this is what justice wills in accordance with universal laws that are grounded a priori. . . This fitting of punishment to the crime is shown by the fact that only by this is a sentence of death pronounced on every criminal in proportion to his ‘inner wickedness’ (even when the crime is not murder but another crime against the state that can be paid for only by death)” (Kant, 1996). Here we see that Kant strongly believes in retribution (revenge). He believes that equality is established when legal punishment responds to guilt. He also strongly believes in the death penalty as a form of punishment and justice and believes it is the only proportional punishment to murderers and those who have wickedness inside of them. Kant (1996 b) believes that “in every punishment, there must first be justice”. Therefore he believes that all punishment (including the death penalty) is a way of giving justice, and a failure to punish, would be societies failure of giving justice. Not everyone has the right to give justice. Punishment must be given by someone in authority (either a single person or a group) and is either carried out under a system of law or in other social settings (such as within a family). Kant