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Reformation To change someone's behaviour
for the better
In Christianity, reformation is the most important aim of punishment. There are evidence in the bible
to support this:
Jesus & the Adulterous Woman
Jesus saved the woman from being stoned to death by saying to the crowd that anyone who had not
sinned could throw the first stone. When no one was left, he said to the woman `Go away and sin
no more'. This suggests that Jesus thought that it was important to give people second chances
and give them chance to change. To reinforce this point that we are all sinners and therefore
should not condemn others. `Do not judge, or you will be judged.'
The Parable of the Lost Son
When the youngest son returns to the father after squandering his share of his inheritance, instead
of condemning him, he greets him with open arms and celebrates his return `He was dead and is
alive again; he was lost and is found'. The parable is a metaphor for those who have lost their way
from the path of God and the father who is ever loving and always willing to forgive those who are
truly sorry for their wrongdoing. It again suggests that everybody deserves a second chance and the
chance to seek forgiveness from God.
Jesus' response to the Old Testament
Jesus quotes the Old Testament and seems to give a new message that seeking revenge and
getting your own back (retribution?) is wrong `You have heard that I was said, "Eye for eye, and
tooth for tooth". But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right
cheek, turn to him the other also'. This clearly suggests that reformation is more important than
retribution and that `two wrongs do not make a right'.
Jesus' Treatments of Outcasts
Jesus spent time with criminals and people who acted sinfully. He did not condemn them but tried to
help them change their behaviour for the better and reconcile themselves with God and the rest of
In many Muslims countries reformation is the least important aim of punishment. However, it
necessary for an offender to seek Allah's forgiveness and to become purified:
`And seek forgiveness of Allah; surely Allah is forgiving and compassionate'.
This is more likely to happen if the offender learns from their mistakes and becomes a better
person. If a person is in prison it is important that they are helped to accept responsibility for what
they have done so that they will not commit further crimes in the future.
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Protection To stop the criminal hurting
anyone in society
Protection is also an important aim of punishment. For many Christians the teaching to `Love your
neighbour' would include helping to protect them from danger. Just as the Good Samaritan helps the
man who has been robbed and beaten by bandits, so people in society should be protected from
those who are a threat to them.
Muslims would agree that one of the main aims of punishments is the protection of innocent citizens.…read more
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Deterrence is one of the most important aims of punishments. Strict punishments under Shari'ah Law
are designed to act as a warning to others not to commit crimes. Some Muslims countries use capital
punishment and corporal punishment for certain offences. These punishments are often carried out
in public with the intention of making an example of the guilty criminal.
Retribution Revenge on the criminal in
order to serve justice
Retribution is mentioned in the Old Testament.…read more