Edexcel RE - Crime and Punishment Notes

A summary of the fourth topic of Religion and Society Edexcel RE course, Crime and Punishment.

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RE Revision: Crime and Punishment
Theories of Punishment
Criminals pay for their crime proportion to its severity.
Criminals suffer for what they've done, just as victims suffer.
It actually punishes the crime. Definition of punish is `to make an offender suffer what they've done.'
The idea that if the deterrent punishment is so severe no-one will commit crimes eg. Cutting hands off
stealing/executing for murder.
Criminals will become honest, law-abiding citizens who will not want to commit crimes again.
Some believe that criminals commit crimes because how they've been brought up and don't know anything else.
Reformative punishments often give criminals education and qualifications so they can get a job & not need to
commit crime (rehabilitation of offenders)
Capital punishment protects us since murderers are dead they cannot threaten us anymore.
Prison sentences protect us and our property as if criminals are locked away out of society, they can't harm us.
Community service protects us as it keeps hooligans off the street.
Disadvantages of punishments
Retribution ­ sense of injustice if victims of crime felt the criminal has not been punished enough.
Deterrence ­ suggests countries with very severe punishments have low levels of crime ­ not the case.
Reform ­ goes against the idea of punishment.
Protection ­ at some point most criminals are back into society to commit crimes once again.
Laws and Justice
Why do we need laws?
Keeps people safe (others and yourself)
Make things fair.
To make everyone equal (sex, race, religion, etc.)
Business laws eg. Minimum wage, working hours.
Keeps everything organised and civilised.
Protect the weak ­ murder, rape and theft.
Becomes a more civilised society.
Humans live in groups, groups need rules eg. Traffic lights
Ensure everyone has human rights.
Prevent anarchy/maintain order.
Why must laws be just?
1. If a law is unjust then people will think it is right to break laws. This attitude could cause the whole basis of society
to disintegrate.
2. If some laws are unjust this may lead people to believe all laws are unjust and if this is the case then laws aren't
fulfilling their job.
3. If a law is unjust people won't obey it and a campaign against it may happen ­ causing trouble in society eg. Civil
Rights, Campaign in US ­ Rosa Parks ­ bus boycott (lost money, bus companies put pressure on Government)
4. If laws don't create a just society, people will think the legal system is not working and may start a civil war ­ eg.
Kosova against the Serbian legal system.
5. If laws are unjust they will disrupt society rather than unite society.
Why is justice important to Christians?
God is a just God and people should behave in the same way.
The Bible teaches that God wants people to behave justly.
Jesus taught that everyone should be treated equally and fairly, for example by the rich helping the poor.
Jesus taught that everyone should be treated in the way they wish to be treated `do to others what you would have
them done to you' [Matt 7v12]
All of the Christian churches teach that Christians should behave justly.
On Judgement Day, God will judge their behaviour on Earth ­ if they have behaved justly, they will be rewarded and
if they have behaved unjustly they will be punished [Sheep & Goats].
Why is justice important to Muslims?
Muslims aren't allowed to charge interest on loans because people only loan money if they need to ­ interest makes
the rich richer and poor poorer. Special Islamic banks are established to help the less fortunate.
The Qur'an teaches that God wants people to act in kindness, justice and fairness to each other.
Everyone is equal under Muslim law.
Justice is the basis of Zakah (One of the five pillars of Islam which commands Muslims to give 2.5% of their spare
income to help others. This is a way of spreading wealth more justly between people.)
The Shari'ah Law requires justice for everyone.
The prophet Mohammed acted with justice.
By Charlotte Taylor

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RE Revision: Crime and Punishment
Capital Punishment
For Against
If people know they will lose their life if they murder If a murderer knows he will be killed if caught, he is more
someone it will act as a deterrent and there will be fewer likely to kill more people to avoid being caught.
Murderers and terrorists are a threat to society, if they are Terrorists who are executed are hailed as martyrs and
dead they cannot re-offend and society will be safer.…read more

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RE Revision: Crime and Punishment
Health Problems
Increases the risk of at 50 medical conditions including dementia and digestive problems.
Causes some conditions ­ some cancers, coronary heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema.
Can affect male fertility.
During male pregnancy, harms unborn babies & can cause complications during pregnancy and labour.
Causes more death than any other substance.…read more

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RE Revision: Crime and Punishment
The Bible teaches that consumption of alcohol impairs judgement, inflames passions and invites violence (Leviticus
Concerns about the social and health problems caused by drugs and alcohol lead them to feel that Christians should
set an example of a good and healthy lifestyle.
Their work supporting recovering alcoholics enforces their views on abstaining from alcohol.
All Christians are against illegal drug usage.…read more


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