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Why we need Criminal Law. Even though some believe that laws sometimes oppress the people, a society with laws would not be a society but more like a jungle because laws serve to regulate human interaction and laws enforce moral belief. The purposes of criminal law in its simplest form are to protect and serve society. Criminal law has basic functions that help protect society. Criminal law purpose in society function is to protect the basic moral of the people. In the early days in America, history during the so-called Wild West morality was a low point. Criminal without a regard for the law dominated the social norm during the cowboy era. Many townships did not have law enforcement and thus lawlessness had no buffer for crime. If control had not been restored the country in all probability would not exist today.
The laws exist to create a line that must not be cross or else one will suffer the consequence of violating the law. According to Frank Schmalleger, the author of Criminal justice today, the "fundamental to the concept of criminal law is the assumption that criminal act injure not just individuals, but society as a whole." (Schmalleger, 2011, p.117) Gleaning from his statement it is clear that when a crime is committed it does not only affect the victim but the community. When saying community this is to include family, friends, and possibly neighbors. Therefore, any time a law is broken it can affect many people. Moreover as a society, we need to have buffers to keep order or else disastrous society would be the norm. Since the law act as a buffer for lawlessness it is fair to say that it also set boundaries for law-abiding citizens. In order for criminal law to work these boundaries has to often deterrence.
Deterrence is "a goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to inhibit criminal behavior through the fear of punishment." (Schmalleger, 2011, p. 374) In order to persuade people violating the law, they need to know that there will be consequences for their actions. The purpose of deterrence is not merely to punish one for a crime it also exist t to persuade other from committing the same crime. Often time when one is drive on the interstate or freeways one will see law enforcement sitting on the side of the road.
The present of the officer is a simply deterrence to driver speeding. "General deterrence main goal is to reduce the probability of one committing a crime." (Schmalleger, 2011, p.374) When looking at general deterrence, it goal is stop deviance in the general population. Criminal law tries to use general deterrence that will stop future occurrence. When one in a store to shoplift they might see, a sign that state camera are monitoring the store. Furthermore, a store might have a security guard present to deter one stealing. The police might patrol an area near clubs where fight often occurs.
However, there is "specific deterrence that seeks to avoid repeat offenses." (Schmalleger, 2011, p.374) In specific deterrence, the goal is to prevent recidivism by convicted offenders. In this theory, it attempts to eliminate the offender repeat the crime by corporal punishment, three strike rule, and shock sentencing. When deterrence does not work the justice system only alternative is punishment.
Punishment is much like deterrence in that it is seen as a crime preventive measure. Some see "punishment as a nature and deserved consequence of criminal activity." (Schmalleger, 2011, p.374) If criminal law is to function correctly criminal have to know that if they commit a crime, especially after the system has place deterrence as a buffer to prevent one form committing a crime they will be punished.
Punishment for offense such as child molestation is one of the toughest punishments for offenders. Next to the death penalty child molester are given the strict punishment. The offender are often limited to where they can live, seek employment and whom they can interact with in society. One might say that the punishment they receive is just but this punishment often led to recidivism. Therefore, the strictness of this punishment tends to defend the purpose. Society will say that the punishment is a success however, it is not rehabilitating. Punishment does have it place in society and does work but one must ask is punishment just or is just retribution with makeup. Retribution is seen as "the act of taking revenge on criminal perpetrator." (Schmalleger, 2011, p.373) Retribution seems like the punishment that child molesters receive. The "just deserts model is seen as the criminal getting what they deserve." (Schmalleger, 2011, p.374) However, this does not solve the problem it perpetual the problem in criminal law. "The Court claims to justify the death penalty in retributive terms in part because execution vindicates the community's interest in denouncing the conduct of the offender with the "ultimate penalty." Nevertheless, the Court's analysis is problematic. First, if satisfying the community's desire for punishment counts as a retributive goal, the Court uncritically understands the death penalty as the "ultimate" penalty." (Markel, 2009)
In conclusion, society knows the purposes of criminal law in its simplest form are to protect and serve society. Criminal law can perform it basic functions, which is to help protect society. However, criminal law will never achieve it s objective if the criminal is not rehabilitated. Rehabilitation should be a main objective next protecting and serving. If society did not have criminal law, the society would not be to survive.