Justifying Aim of Punishment for Utilitarians
The utilitarianism theory suggests that the ultimate consequences determine the choices of actions. Regarding this theory, individuals weigh the outcomes of their actions before embarking on them. The utilitarianism theory proposes that the state should punish offenders but in a desirable manner to achieve the objectives of a favourable society. Thus, before a state decides on the appropriate punishment for an individual, it should consider the amount of harm that the chosen form of punishment will inflict on the offender. This is relevant because it is unfair for the state to inflict considerable harm on an individual who has committed a minor offence. From a utilitarian view, the execution of any punishment should be for the common good.
This implies that the outcome of the punishment should please both the offender and the victim. To achieve this outcome, the offender has to be treated with leniency. Furthermore, he or she should learn about the benefits of appropriate behaviour during the expedition of punishment. The adopted form of punishment might not please the victim and the state, considering the level of crimes committed. However, the utilitarian concept maintains that this is the best approach to expending punishment. If adopted, it can lead to crime reduction in society and enhance peaceful coexistence.
According to John Mills, everyone desires an appropriate value judgment. Thus, all humans should strive to promote desirable acts to achieve desirable consequences. In this regard, the utilitarian concept suggests that we should punish offenders using desirable forms of punishment. This does not imply that we offer pleasurable justice to offenders as doing so will make the cause of punishment obsolete. For this reason, desirable justice, as proposed by the utilitarian concept, means expending punishment without harming an individual’s health or causing him or her unnecessary pain.
According to the utilitarian theory, modern means of punishing criminals such as imprisonment have proved to be ineffective. Using prison-related research, proponents of this theory have illustrated how prisoners adapt to the living conditions in prisons but poorly adapt to post-prison living conditions. Through this comparison, the effectiveness of prisons as rehabilitation institutions remains questionable. Consequently, adjusting the fines and length of prison terms served to prisoners has no positive impacts on the prisoners’ lives. The proponents of this theory suggest that the relevant authorities should identify other fair and effective means of punishment for effective rehabilitation.
Despite the numerous benefits resulting from utilitarian punishment, we should not be quick in adopting this theory, as it still has some unproven aspects. In my opinion, the theory might not be practical in contemporary society and should first undergo tests in schools to ascertain its effectiveness. Similarly, the theory might not appeal to the public as the aspect of offering criminals desirable and pleasurable punishment is unjustified considering the crimes that these individuals have committed. Lastly, with the adoption of the utilitarianism form of punishment, criminals will considerably gain in numerous ways. As asserted by the theory, criminals will learn the impacts of appropriate behaviour for the benefit of enhancing happiness in society. Ultimately, criminals will appreciate the search for happiness and exploration of desirable consequences resulting in the happiness desired by utilitarian doctrine.