How is the following true?Punishment for an individual's actions always suit the crime. What are some arguments that can be made for the statement above?

Expert Answers
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Must you take the affirmative on this issue?  I agree with Post #5 that to be dogmatic in assuming that the punishment always fits the crime is illogical.  In the United States if we believed this, we would not have an appeals system.

If you want a literary example to support your thesis, you can cite The Merchant of Venice, especially Act 4 in which Antonio, Shylock, and Portia battle it out in the courtroom.  Their city, Venice, bases its judicial system on the letter of the law, and in this aspect, it would support your point because the Venetians in the play believe the law to be infallible, thus one must submit to its authority.

If you address your side from purely a legal or logical standpoint, I think that you will have great difficulty establishing four well-supported claims. Plus, a truly logical argument includes a concession, a point with which you agree with your opponent (someone who would not think that the punishment always fits the crime).

If you can support your thesis from a moral or spiritual basis, I think that you would be more successful. For, even if one escapes the punishment of the literal law (whether by being acquitted, never caught, or receiving a lighter sentence than seems fitting), he/she might ultimately stand "trial" morally, emotionally, or psychologically for a crime.  Post #3's example of Crime and Punishment is an excellent example of this.

One last thought--if you are writing an essay, and your discussion post is your thesis, try to make it a more specific statement. Are you referring to all crimes (worldwide)? Are referring to legal punishments?  Those are all aspects that will affect your writing.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Punishment can take legal and moral forms.  Depending on the level of faith one has in both, punishment can be seen as fitting the crime, or at least as proportional measures of justice.  If one has faith in the American justice system, there is a measure of justice that matches up punishment with a specific crime.  For example, the established punishment for parking in front of a fire hydrant is suitable, while the established punishment for robbery is also suitable to that particular transgression.  Naturally, there is an argument that suggests some crimes go unpunished, but in the vast majority of cases, all attempts are made to match up punishments to crimes.  In terms of moral adjudication and dependent on one's belief system, there is a spiritual dimension that mandates some type of justice is delivered.  This might take the form of confession, atonement, karmic realignment, or something of that nature.  Even outside of the religious dimension, many believe that the moral implications of crimes committed haunt one's soul, preventing any true happiness from taking root.  In both settings, this is appropriate to the crime committed.  For example, one might have to not endure a great deal of guilt and anguish over a parking violation, but in contrast, might have to endure a great deal of emotional and internal agony over being responsible for a hit and run style of accident.  The answer to the issue of moral punishment is contingent on one's individual belief system.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since this question is posted in the Literature Group, a literary answer will be offered.  Fyodor Dostovesky's Rodion Romanov Raskolnikov, the protagonist of "Crime and Punishment," is a character who illustrates well this point.  A university student who cannot pay his fees, Raskolnikov is proud and scornful of others. To prove that his is a "superman," Raskolniknow brags that he can kill and no one will suspect him.  One day he murders the old pawnbroker who lives upstairs.  However, the murder goes wrong as the sister of the pawnbroker stumbles upon her body; Raskolniknow kills her.  Tormented by his guilt, Raskolnikov feels that the crime will be apparent to others.  Raskolniknov notices a policeman, whom he thinks watches him, and his guilty conscience causes Raskolnikov the feel that the policeman must suspect him.  When the policement notices that Raskolnikov acts with suspicion, he follows the student. 

That Raskolnikov has a moral conscience is evident in his treatment of others such as his sister whom he defends against her fiance.  He also gives money to a widow and to a prostitute.  To this prostitute, Raskolnikov ultimately confesses his crime as he can no longer stand the torture of his conscience, and begins his journey to redemption. 

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a difficult question to answer, because it presupposes that punishments always fit crimes, which is not necessarily true. Nevertheless, I’ll attempt to offer 4 arguments in support of the statement.

1.    The simple fact that any punishment is administered in response to a crime is in itself fitting to support the statement.

2.    Legislatures spend extensive time and debate crafting statutory requirements, minimums, and limitations on punishments. Most legislators are lawyers and therefore are familiar with criminal law. It is reasonable to assume that the punishments they set are appropriate for the crimes.

3.    Within legislative limits, judges are the final arbiter for imposing punishments. Because judges have spent time studying the law in depth and listening to all the evidence, it is reasonable to assume that the sentences they prescribe are fitting.

4.    In some cases, juries decide the punishment for crimes. Although juries are laypersons, they are guided by the judge in applying the facts of the case in making these decisions. They also hear all the evidence before making decisions. Therefore, one can assume that the punishment imposed in a jury decision is fitting.


krishna-agrawala | Student

It is not quite correct to say that punishments that individuals get always suits the crime. In modern times, legal systems across the world accept the need for some balance between the crime committed and the punishment for the same. However in practice there are several reasons why this does not always happen. This fact is also realized by all good legal systems, and accordingly several methods are adopted by these legal systems to ensure that the punishment matches the crime.

I will describe below the main methods or safeguards used in common legal systems to ensure parity between crime and punishment.

  1. Laws prescribe the punishment for different types of crimes based on the principle that punishment mus suit the crime.
  2. Laws prescribe that crime of individual is must be proved before a person is declared guilty and punished for any crime.
  3. Procedures of investigating and proving a crime, prescribed by law have suitable safeguards prevent possibility that a guilt of a person is wrongly established, either deliberately by investigation agencies or by mistake.
  4. Judges conducting the trials in court and pronouncing judgements are skilled in ascertaining the truth of evidence presented in court so that the decision of the court are based on reality, and not lies presented as truth.
  5. Judges conducting the trials are also skilled in evaluating the seriousness of crimes committed and in matching the punishment to the crime.

These safeguards built into legal systems may also be used as arguments to support the proposition that punishment that individuals get is suited to their crime. But we must remember that such safeguards are not hundred percent effective.

moalz | Student

Basically my question is..

Why are the punishments that the individuals who commit the crime get, always right? I need 4 arguments :| Any ideas?