Why do rapists, killers, and child molesters are set free? A huge portion of early-release prisoners commit some serious crimes after they are set free by the court (Jewkes and Bennett 2013). In 1983, 108850 state prisoners were set free, from around 11 state institutions, and within three months 60% of the offenders of violent crime were also re-arrested by police (Travis 2011). More than half of the charges imposed on prisoners were related to violent crimes, and they were even discharged within two years. These criminals are sent back to the streets creating more problems (Travis 2011). The justice and legal system are required to stick to their guns when a prison term is a concern. If any person is charged with a case of armed robbery and is sentenced to 15 years in jail, then why should they go free in only five years or less? It is important to prepare criminals to pay for the crime (Easton and Piper 2016). If the criminals are incarcerated for the complete length of giving sentence, then there will be fewer offenders, and the crime rate will also be reduced.

Few think that if we reduce the prison term, we can save a lot of tax money, and there will be fewer requirements for building, maintaining, and expanding the staff, if there are fewer prisoners (Jewkes and Bennett 2013). But how much these sentences will be reduced, aren’t they already shortened? The average term of imprisonment is seven years and eleven months, but in reality, only two years and eleven months are served (Easton and Piper 2016). This essay will discuss whether a prison sentence is the best punishment for crime, and in this context, views are presented by refereeing the theory.

Prison sentence as the best punishment for a crime

Nowadays, crime is a growing problem in every country. Few believe that criminals deserve to be given strict punishment, for which they need to pay, for what they did to others. Where else, few others think that there should be a better way, as all the prisoners are not criminals (Easton and Piper 2016). There are different benefits of giving long-term sentences to offenders. Firstly, spending a long time inside the prison offers an opportunity to rethink what crime they have done. For instance, if someone performs a crime then they should be given re-education inside the prison so that they feel guilty and realize their mistake (Easton and Piper 2016). I had seen one culprit, who had to perform some crime when he came out of prison, and his life was completely changed. Now he is happy, doing his job and living with their family members. After seeing him, no one can recognize that he had done some crime. Secondly, if the offenders live inside the prison, which is away from society, there exists a possibility, that crime will get reduced in the society (Easton and Piper 2016).

However, there are a few people, who are completely against it, and they think that if offenders live inside the prison for a long time they will get mixed with other dangerous criminals, through which, they might get wrong information and there exist high chances that they will also imitate like them (Smith 2004). As a result of that, they might also become a serious criminal. And can be dangerous for the society. In particular cases, culprits perform minor crimes like theft; these people shouldn’t be given long-term sentences (Jewkes and Bennett 2013).

In the present time, the punishment tends to revolve around the prison; nevertheless, there are still many non-custodial sentences, such as fines, community service, and probation, as well as anti-social behaviour (Smith 2004). There are different types of prisons, which rely on the offender as well as an offense committed by the people, a criminal can move to medium-security prison, minimum security prison, and juvenile halls if they are young, and last is a high-security prison. Young people are usually not given imprisonment by adult criminals, as there is a chance, they might get corrupt through their influence (Tonry 2012). For instance, older and experienced criminals might give advice to the young on how to run away from crime, or what’s the effective way of doing the crime.

According to the utilitarian philosophy, laws should be enhanced for the happiness of society. As punishment and crime are quite inconsistent and don’t match with happiness, they should be reduced. Utilitarians analyse that a crime-free society never exists anywhere, but the same endeavour towards inflicting punishment, as it's needed for preventing future crimes (Tonry 2012). Under the philosophy of utilitarianism, laws, that describe criminal punishment should be created to deter any future criminal offense. Deterrence functions by general and specific levels. General deterrence implies that the punishment should stop others from undertaking any criminal activity (Jewkes and Bennett 2013). The prison sentence or punishment acts as an example for society and gives notice to others that criminal behaviour won’t be tolerated and people will be given punishment.

Particular deterrence implies that the punishment needs to prevent a similar individual from committing any criminal offense. Specific deterrence functions in two ways, firstly, the offender might be thrown inside the bars or prison might be physically stopped from committing any other crime for a particular period. Secondly, the incapacitation made is quite unpleasant, which will discourage the culprit from repeating similar criminal behaviour (Jewkes and Bennett 2013).

The legal system of the country depicts the adherence to the utilitarian philosophy in creating the system like programs of pre-trial diversion, and these are parole and probation. These systems try to limit the punishment to the extent, which requires protecting the society (Jewkes and Bennett 2013). The philosophy of utilitarianism also depicts the assignment of various punishments for different types of crimes, and the notion related to that is, that the amount of punishment a convicted criminal attains needs to exist in proportion to the harm or problems created by the crime (National Audit Office 2012). For instance, in the case of murder, imprisonment for a life term or even death penalty should be given. Simple battery and assault having no significant injuries are mainly punished during the low crime, and a fine can also be (Jewkes and Bennett 2013).

The judge often holds discretion towards the fashion crime as per the requirement of both the defendant and society. It can also be referred to as utilitarian tenets. Nevertheless, the discretion of the judiciary is case of prison sentencing is quite limited. In particular cases, statutes require judges should impose mandatory and fewer prison sentences as the punishment, as all the laws stand just like the retributive theory monument (Jewkes and Bennett 2013).

According to my perspective, prison is explained as the best type of punishment for various reasons. Firstly, by placing the law-breakers inside the jail, one ensures the safety given to society (Jewkes and Bennett 2013). This implies criminals will never repeat their crimes, in case they are sent to stay in prison. Secondly, inside the custody principles, culprits are made people, For instance, the area many prisoners, follow the rehabilitation process, under which prisoners attain education as well as learn about the right life skills (Jewkes and Bennett 2013). Finally, the punishment given to the long prison term could deter the offender again and again. As they will understand freedom value, they should learn again and be aware fast, in the future.

Law enforcement officers often mention that prison sentence is referred to as a social control tool, instead of a way of punishing the offender. However, this type of argument is not right due to different reasons, firstly, the prison sentence concept was initiated to satisfy the collective emotional desire for retaliation (Tonry 2012). This, the key goal of inflicting problems or subjecting offenders to prison terms is related to retaliation for their acts. It implies that the prison sentence application is initiated through vengeance, instead of scientific reasoning of its results.

In the present contemporary society, the government holds a monopoly over the act of legitimate forces that often create influence over imparting punishment to criminals. Simultaneously, the legal system applies the use of prison sentences for managing the retribution on the part of the distressed party. Secondly, the term of imprisonment relies on the concept of letting the criminal punishment fit the crime. It implies that the criminal should face punishment, commensurate with the offense they have committed (Travis 2011). In such cases, the punishment creates the key goal behind imparting prison sentences. Finally, every person holds a component of positivity and negativity. Subjecting the criminal to a life time prison sentence, for example, the government refuses the offender to give freedom for initiating his good character, this will not only be considered as punishment towards the criminal but also for the society that might have benefitted through his good character.


Easton, S. and Piper, C. 2016. Sentencing and Punishment: the quest for justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jewkes, Y., and Bennett, J. 2013. Dictionary of Prisons and Punishment. Routledge

National Audit Office. 2012. Comparing International Criminal Justice Systems. [Online].

Smith, N. 2004. A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun. London. Penguin Group.

Tonry, M. 2012. Punishment and Politics. Routledge

Travis, A. 2011. Short jail sentence preferable to community service, say prisoners. The Guardian. [Online]. 

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