Religious Studies short course GCSE

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Crime and Punishment

Causes of crime:

  • Psychological (mental illness etc)
  • Social (peer pressure etc)
  • Environmental (Unemployed etc)
  • Addiction (Drugs etc)
  • Some believe it is just down to selfishness and greed.

Types of crime: 

  • Crimes against the person (murder, assult etc)
  • Crimes against property (theft, robbery etc)
  • Crimes against the state (terrorism)
  • Religious offence (swearing, having an affair etc)

Sin - When a person breaks religious rules/guidelines like swearing, lying or swearing.

Crime - When a person breaks the law and can be punished by the courts and police. 

Some are bothe a crime and a sin for example murder. 

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Aims of Punishment

Main aims of punishment:

  • Deterrent (to put the criminal or others off)
  • Protection (society)
  • Reform (make them see a different way of life)
  • Retribution (getting even)
  • Vindication (gives the law authority)
  • Reparation (when a person has broken the law by vandalising etc is made to fix what they have done) 

Examples of punishment in the UK:

  • Prison
  • Electronic tagging
  • Community service
  • Young offenders institution (under 18's)
  • Fines
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About Prison and Young Offenders

Young offenders, punished by:

  • Asbo (anti social behvaviour order)
  • Reprimand
  • Final warning
  • Curfew order
  • Repairation order (repair what they have done)

Protects society
Lock people away so they can't break the law 
Provide opportunities to change


  • Expensive
  •  School of crime
  •  67% reoffend
  • Prison record makes it hard to get a job
  • Relationships often break down 
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Capital Punishment

The death penalty was abolished in Britain in 1969.

The last case where the death penalty was issued was the case of Derek Bentley (18) who was hanged in 1954 for his part in robbery. His partner in crime was not issued this even though he shot a police officer. Dereks family later received a posthumous pardon. 

For the death penalty:

  • An eye for an eye (the old testament)
  • Retribution - Terrorist and murderers deserve to die
  • deterrent - it is an ultimate deterrent for criminals
  • Protection - The public need protecting
  • Finance - Costs tax payers thousands to keep murderers alive


  • Only god has the right to take a life
  • Deterrence - There is no evidence to suggest it is more of a deterrence than prison
  • Reformation - Refromed criminals can be an enormous influence for good
  • Mistakes - Innocent people have been executed 
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Christian Views on Punishment

Christians views on punishment:

  • The death penalty is not accepted as it does not show compassion or give the offender time to reform
  • "Love the sinner hate the crime"
  • "Let who is without sin be the first to cast a stone"
  • "Love your neighbour
  • "Love your enemy and do good to them
  • They support reform programmes in prison so that offenders have a chance to change for the better
  • They believe Jesus is the Prince of Peace and so prisoners should be given every opportunity to become better people
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Buddhist Views on Punishment

Buddhist views:

  • The death penalty is not in keeping with the first precept "I undertake to abstain from taking life"
  • Metta - Compassion to all living things
  • Anicca - Everything changes nothing stays the same (everyone can change)
  • Anatta - We are all linked ( Be careful what you do as others may follow)
  • Ahisma - non harm to all living things 
  • 8 fold path - 8 rules to live by including no action so the death penalty is not supported
  • "Prevention is better than a cure" - giving people a better lifestyle will avoid them committing crime
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