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Philosophies of Punishment

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Among all available philosophies of punishment, restoration is the only one that is focused at the person, who has suffered harm from the criminal offence – a victim, its troubles, and losses. Therefore, nowadays, restoration should be the prime philosophy and goal of the criminal punishment.

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The state is generally supposed to ensure protection of a human being from the offense and its consequences, as well as to restore the violated rights of the victim. This, in turn, means that punishment should be primarily aimed at the elimination of harmful effects of the offense, thus being devoted to providing the state support to victims of such an offense. Other philosophies of punishment are focused basically on the person who committed the offense. In other words, those philosophies refer to the aspects of possible impact upon the offender where the state should have either to pay back criminals for what they have done, or just isolate them from the society, or prevent from the commission of crimes again, or even “correct” the criminals by means of separate methods of treatment (Braithwaite, 1999, p.269). At the same time, restoration is concentrated on the victim of the offense and the recovery of the disturbed balance in the social relations, and, therefore, an actual restoration of the social status of the individuals.

In modern society, the status of the victim should be given much more attention than it is given today, since criminal justice by its nature does not provide necessary conditions for understanding the consequences of the committed deed of the offender. Nor does it ensure the restoration of the violated victims’ rights (Hudson, 1987, p.34). However, both the law enforcement officers and the public should finally accept the idea that the imprisonment of the offender cannot restore the violated victims’ rights or reimburse criminal damages and physical harm caused by the crime. Besides, there is also a need to address the issues of victims’ feelings and emotional state compensation. The injured persons feel constant fear, resentment, and anger. They are vulnerable and insecure. Thus, the restoration of the rights of crime victims provides the support and compensation for damages (the return of property, money, etc.) and returns them a sense of security and emotional confidence. The victims want to obtain the emotional power over their lives and to control their behavior (Duff, 1996, p.65). Therefore, the international communities gradually abandon the approach to responding to crime only through coercive and punitive methods and recognize restorative procedures as much more needed goal of criminal punishment. Moreover, criminal procedure in many European and other countries declare the need for restorative justice as the most urgent rationale of punishment nowadays in order to ensure real restoration of victims’ violated rights, as well as re-education, social adaptation, and reintegration of the person, who committed the offense.

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