Theories of Punishment with Special Reference to Reformative Theory

1796 Words Jul 28th, 2010 8 Pages
Theories of Punishment with Special Focus on Reformative Theory Neetij Rai

Abstract: As Hobbes said that in the state of nature people were nasty, brutish and their life was short. Locke viewed that the people in the state of nature agreed a social contract in order to establish a formal law. In Rousseau‟s view, the social contract was done for the security of property and liberty. Thus from the very beginning of the origin of state, the concept of crime and ways of preventing it or if not, punishing the wrong-doer existed. The punishment system is an integral part of criminal justice and for maintaining social security. The progress of civilization has resulted in the change in the theory, method and motive of punishment.

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Prevention would accordingly seem to be the chief and only universal purpose of punishment.”4 Suspending the corrupt officer from his/her post, cancellation of driving license, awarding death penalty to hardened criminals are the examples of the theory.

Criticism: A person may commit crime under some psychological stress and in such cases he/she has very less chance of repeating it. Therefore in such condition preventive theory seems meaningless. Preventing the offenders might even develop the tendency in the offender to commit the crime again.


Bryan A. Garner, Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edi. P.g.1248 V.d. Maharjan, Jurispuudence and Legal Theory, 5th Edi., Eastern Book Company,Lucknow, P.g. 138



Reformative Theory:

“Punishment the purpose of which is to change the character of the offender.”5 According to roman jurisprudence, punishment shouldn‟t be for the sake of punishment; rather it should be for reform. 6 After the retributive, deterrent and preventive theories couldn‟t reduce crime in society, a new theory called reformative theory was introduced at around 18th century. Especially after the humanist movement under thinkers like Becearia and Bentham the new theory began to evolve. The distinct feature of the theory is that unlike others it focused on the criminal rather than crime and seeked to bring about a change in the attitude of the offender so as to rehabilitee him/her as law abiding member of
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