Penalty cannot be primarily designed to secure social and governmental safety, for the reason that it is never right to punish the individual simply for the good of society. No punishment, moreover, will or can do good to others that is not just and right in itself. Punishment does good, only when the person punished deserves punishment and that desert of punishment, and not the good effects that will follow it, must be the ground and reason why it is inflicted. The contrary theory would imply that the criminal might go free but for the effect of his punishment on others and that man might rightly commit crime if only he were willing to bear the penalty.
Kant, Praktische Vernunft. 151 (ed. Rosenkranz) ? ?The notion of ill- desert and ?punishableness? is necessarily implied in the idea of voluntary transgression; the idea of punishment excludes that of happiness in all its forms. For though he who inflicts punishment may, it is true, also have a benevolent purpose to produce by the punishment some good effect upon the criminal yet, the punishment must be justified first of all as pure and simple requital and retribution. In every punishment as such, justice is the very first thing and constitutes the essence of it. A benevolent purpose, it is true, may be conjoined with punishment but the criminal cannot claim this as his due and he has no right to reckon on it? These utterances of Kant apply to the deterrent theory as well as to the reformatory theory of penalty. The element of desert or retribution is the basis of the other elements in punishment. See James Seth, Ethical Principles. 333-336; Shedd, Dogm. Theology, 2:717; Hodge, Essays, 133.
A certain English judge, in sentencing a criminal, said that he punished him, not for stealing sheep but that sheep might not be stolen. But it is the greatest injustice to punish a man for the mere sake of example. Society cannot be benefited by such injustice. The theory can give no reason why one should be punished rather another or why a second offence should be punished more heavily than the first. Of this theory, moreover, if there were but one creature in the universe, and none existed other than him to be affected by his suffering, he could not justly be punished, however great might be his sin. The only principle that can explain punishment is the principle of desert. See Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory, 2:348.
?Crime is most prevented by the conviction that crime deserves punishment; the greatest deterrent agency is conscience.? So in the government of God ?there is no hint that future punishment works good to the lost or to the universe. The integrity of the redeemed is not to be maintained by subjecting the lost to a punishment they d not deserve. The wrong merits punishment and God is bound to punish it whether good
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