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   The Punishment Should Fit the Crime


We have all heard of cultures where people who steal get their hands cut off, or their tongues removed for lying. Books and online newsletters inform parents ways that ensure the punishments they hand out to their children fit the offence. An article on the World Community Educational Society argues that holding accused prisoners in maximum-security facilities while awaiting trial is a violation of this very principle (“Let the punishment fit the crime”).
Sean Carter talked about a Texas Judge that uses creative ways to sentence guilty plaintiffs. He gave the example of Judge Larry Standley sentencing a man guilty of domestic violence to take yoga classes (2004). Even though this approach seems rather revolutionary, if not inappropriate, Carter does applaud Judge Standley for finding an alternative to putting the man behind bars. Carter goes on to give examples of how to punish other criminals. Being a legal satirist, he suggests granting identity theft criminals the ability to have his bad-credit brother-in-law’s identity, or sentencing DUI offenders to be New York City cab drivers.
Even with the creative ways to apply a punishment to an individual, the practical application becomes a bit more difficult to decide. What punishment do you award an individual that takes another’s life? Some will argue that, when compared to an example like Carter’s identity theft solution, a death sentence is nothing more than a legal form of what the individual committed. Traffic violators have to sit though traffic school. DUI/DWI offenders may be required to go to AA meetings. Domestic abusers may end up getting counseling. All these punishments apply to the crime, but are also solutions that an individual can seek out on their own too. Capital punishment is a form of retribution, but can be also fitting to the crime.
In states where capital punishment is not an option, is a life sentence more fitting to the crime? If so, why have states that use capital punishment not changed their sentencing? If not, why are the other states allowed to continue not properly punishing offenders? Either way you look at, does either punishment fit the crime? Imagine having a loved one kidnapped, and while in the kidnapper’s custody, they are stabbed, slashed, tortured, sexually assaulted, and killed. In some states, this individual will be forced to live out their lives, while in others a more fitting punishment of death will be awarded. However, remember what your loved one may have gone through. Imagine the pain that they went through. Now try to imagine the pain that this monster will go through when their sentence of death is carried out. That image is probably a bit more attainable because we have all had to get a shot at one point in our life.
The punishment should fit the crime. We teach this to our kids at an early age. We hear stories of teens that are caught smoking by their parents and are forced to smoke a whole pack or carton in hopes that the teen will become so noxious that they will never smoke again. This equality between the crime and the punishment echoes throughout our society, not only in our criminal justice system.
Sports for example try to use this concept. When Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche was assaulted by Vancouver Canucks’ Todd Bertuzzi, there was a demand that Bertuzzi’s crime fit the punishment. Since Bertuzzi’s sucker punch resulted in Moore suffering two broken neck bones and being forced to be sidelined for the rest of the season, if not longer, it seemed only fitting that Bertuzzi received a punishment that also kept him sidelined for the rest of the season (Kurtzberg, 2004).
It is even argued how to punish sports individuals that use drugs to enhance their game. This particular crime is compared to stealing because athletes are using that extra edge they get to appear to be worth more money. However, athletes that commit these crimes are forced to not work, but still get to keep the money they made while abusing substances that allowed them to make all the money in the first place (“Drugs in sports,” Punishment to fit the crime).
However, there are instances where the punishment seems to outweigh the crime. Dr. Thomas Butler of Texas Tech University went on trial for violating federal security statutes, but an argument was made to whether the criminal justice system went a little overboard on the punishment the sought. Dr. Butler, researching a cure for the plague, had brought undocumented and improperly handled samples of the plague into the United States. Colleagues argue that it was nothing more than a paperwork mishap, a paperwork mishap that may result in a seventy-four year prison sentence and over three and a half million dollars in fines (“Punishment to fit the crime,” 2003).
How do you apply a punishment when the system cannot identify the crime? In 1996, Mark Pearlman was charged with the crime of video voyeurism at a point where New York did not have a crime that properly applied to what he had done. New York authorities have charged him and another violator, William Schultz, for burglary (“The punishment must fit the crime,” 2002). This particular crime is an example of how not only is it difficult to apply a suitable punishment to a crime, but sometimes the crime is difficult to define.
 »   References

Carter, S. (2004, January 30). A punishment to fit the crime. Retrieved November 10, 204, from http://www.lawpsided.com.

Drugs in sports. (n.d.) Retrieved November 10, 2004, from http://www.ratrobot.com.

Kurtzberg, B. (2004, February 11). Bertuzzi’s punishment must fit the crime. eSports Media Group. Retrieved November 10, 2004, from http://www.buzzle.com.

Let the punishment fit the crime. (n.d.) Retrieved November 10, 2004 from http://www.wces.org.

Punishment to fit the crime. (2003, August 30). New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2004, from http://www.nytimes.com.

The punishment must fit the crime. (2002, February 1). Farmingdale Observer. Retrieved November 10, 2004, from http://www.antonnews.com.

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