Get Better Law Knowledge for your Own Sake

The law may give different consequence for you. In some situation, you may get the best support by the law that will let you to enjoy different kind of rights that you have. The problem is set on the fact that people is not always that lucky in dealing with law. Driving your car without any driving license will be a simple law violation that may set serious consequence despite of the fact that you are a skilled and safe driver for years. In most situations, the law is not really buying the reason for being unfamiliar with the rule. Whether you already hear or read about it, any violation will most likely have a penalty around.

To prevent any potential mistake on violating the law, self law awareness or education will help you better to get a grip on who the recent law works within the society and any governmental based policy. There will be more than enough law articles. You can have them from different source. All that you need is taking as much as possible the related issue on certain law section without being too much defending certain position within the debate. This is vital because you are not in a position to judge the applied law. For such reason, getting the official statement on the latest law will be all that you need at first before any wild idea related with the law application is making you confuse.

The more you learn more about us law, you may find different standard that is set for different state. This has become one of the reasons why many law questions are set for the same problem. As the top priority, it will be better to get the latest law that is applied in your state. If you are having certain problem in different state, you can refer to the local law where the problem is happening.

Legal Service with Best Assistance

Practicing law is a very delicate matter. It requires attention to details, skills and most of all experience to make the right strategy in solving a matter. The longer the experience of the team, you will be enjoying better outputs too. With any case will be dealt with professional approach, lengthy experience and an academic insight. Thanks to the man behind the scene, the 25 years of experience has managed to help many solve legal matters with effective care. The webpage is easy to comprehend and lists all the services they are able to provide you with.

Some of the services they provide consist of selling and buying properties, inspections of properties of any kind, contracts for commercials, advertisement, residential, zoning, agreements on ownership, co-ownerships, terms of payment and insurance related issues on property. The team is more than happy to make sure that their legal services truly help you. With legal services, many teams rule out the need to understand their client’s situation and focus merely on the issue and solvency. Here you will be provided a different approach. What you feel about the process matters just as much as what the process has resulted in.

You can go here or here to read more about the service they provide you. If you want to be extra careful in making this decision you can always compare. Make sure you compare the same features and think it through. Finding a lawyer can be tricky because no company concentrates on the exact same area making your research important. Legal matters are very delicate as much as they are sophisticated and designed to protect interests of all parties. Give the team a call and see what they have for you. They have been in the field for many years already. Start your search now.

Looking for attorney in US

If you are charged with crime, you must need someone who does understand about the law and that attorney is the right person to meet when you have such problem. He will be able to help you to get compensation or reduce your penalty. If you have such driving problem and live in Illinois, you can call a Peoria DUI lawyer

He is a professional lawyer who can help you with any cases, especially for DUI. DUI is one of most common case happens in United States. If you are charged in DUI, the attorney will help you to reduce your sentence. But, if you are the victim, you will be helped to get your compensation when you get injured.
There are many attorneys who can help you with DUI problem in United States. However, you must be careful to select one of those attorneys. You must check his reputation before deciding to hire him.  But, the Peoria DUI lawyers are the professional who have won many cases, especially in DUI. You can ensure that you will get either your compensation or the sentence reducing. You will not regret hiring such attorney because you can get what you deserve.

After noticing such great lawyers in Peoria, you might question about the attorneys or lawyers in other part of United States. Do they also have such great lawyers? You do not need to worry about it because you might find them in Glendale, Arizona. Glendale criminal defense attorney is also exceptional. It is because he is the same person as the Peoria lawyer. He is always ready to come into your place and help you to win any case that you are facing. You do not need to worry if you are being charged with crime because this lawyer will always be ready for you.

The Advantage of Retaining a Criminal Lawyer

There are two types of criminal offences in Canada, each with its own procedural phases: summary conviction offences and indictable offences. Most offences are dual procedure, or hybrid. This means that the Crown Attorney can elect to prosecute either by way of summary conviction or by indictment.

Summary Conviction Offences

These offences generally carry a sentence up to a maximum of six months imprisonment, with some exceptions. There are two procedural phases: pre-trial and trial, and an experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer can employ different strategies applicable to each phase.

The pre-trial phase consists of three procedural steps:

1) Obtaining complete disclosure of all the evidence from the Crown Attorney;
2) a Crown Pre-Trial meeting; and
3) a Judicial Pre-Trial.

When facing charges in the Toronto Courts, initial disclosure provided during the first or second court appearance is, in most cases, incomplete. A Criminal Defence Lawyer will carefully review all disclosure and make a second or third request for additional materials which appear to be missing from the disclosure package. These additional materials almost always turn out to be helpful to the client's case. Once complete disclosure has been obtained, the Criminal Defence Lawyer will review the materials with the client before proceeding to the next step.

In Toronto, a Criminal Defence Lawyer will schedule a pre-trial meeting with the Crown Attorney. An effective strategy for the Criminal Defence Lawyer is to fully canvass all the issues and identify any weaknesses in the Crown's case. In some cases, the Crown would then consider reducing or withdrawing the charges.

A Judicial Pre-Trial is a meeting conducted before a Judge with both the Crown Attorney and the Criminal Defence Lawyer present and, in Toronto, can be scheduled in most cases. An effective strategy for an experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer is to take this opportunity to again argue any weaknesses in the Crown's case and encourage the Judge to confront the Crown for the purpose of reviewing whether the charges should be reduced or withdrawn. As well, the Crown may indicate a sentencing position on an early guilty plea and this would also be discussed with the Judge. Once the issues have been narrowed down, and if a trial is to proceed, then there is a discussion of how many witnesses are expected to be called and how long the trial is likely to be.

Once the pre-trial phase is completed, the Criminal Defence Lawyer will discuss trial strategies with the client and obtain instructions to set a trial date. In Toronto, the trial would be conducted in one of the five courthouses of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Indictable Offences

These are the more serious offences, which can carry a maximum sentence from two years to life imprisonment. Most indictable offences provide the opportunity for the Criminal Defence Lawyer to elect to have a preliminary hearing before a Judge in the Ontario Court of Justice, which is conducted after the pre-trial phase and before the trial phase. In Toronto, there are five Ontario Court of Justice courthouses where criminal cases are heard: Old City Hall, College Park, Scarborough Court and two in North York. Similar to a trial, the Crown calls its witnesses and the Criminal Defence Lawyer has the opportunity to cross-examine each witness. There is no plea of guilty or not guilty, and there is no finding of guilty or not guilty. Instead, the Judge must decide whether there is sufficient evidence to go to trial in the Superior Court of Justice, located in downtown Toronto on University Avenue, which only deals with indictable offences.

This is a good opportunity for an experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer to test the Crown's evidence and expose the weaknesses in the Crown's case. If the Judge decides that there is insufficient evidence for a trial, then the charges are dismissed and the client is free to go. If a trial is to proceed, then the evidence given by the witnesses during their examination and cross-examination at the preliminary hearing can be used against them at trial by the Criminal Defence Lawyer.

To effectively represent a client facing criminal charges in Toronto, an experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer will take advantage of all of these opportunities to successfully dispose of the charges throughout all phases of the case.

Copyright © 2011 Steven Tress, Barrister and Solicitor. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
About this Author

Steven Tress is a Toronto Criminal Lawyer with over 20 years experience in Criminal Law. His office is located at 425 University Avenue, Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1T6, and may be contacted for a consultation at (416) 977-3657 or via email: For a detailed biography and other information, visit

Why Judicial Corporal Punishment Is Better Than Incarceration

Today, we naturally think of incarceration as more modern and advanced than judicial corporal punishment, but it's not true incarceration is always better. The facts clearly show prison does not rehabilitate or deter much crime and merely keeps criminals out of circulation while they are in prison. While the execution of judicial corporal punishment is horrendous and usually bloody, the effects of incarceration are worse. Prison takes offenders away from their families, marriages, jobs, friends, communities and churches and puts them in an extremely bad moral environment for years at a time. Incarceration does not provide the benefit of example, because it is hidden behind prison walls. In prison, convicts learn crime skills, join or re-join gangs, fight, go crazy or get depressed, suffer in solitary confinement, and adopt sick prison values and ways. Most of the time, prisoners do not learn the job and life skills they need to succeed on the outside. After their release, well over half wind up right back in prison.

All slave systems in history whipped slaves, which proves effectiveness. Stable nations using judicial corporal punishment today enjoy significantly lower crime rates than countries that do not. Historically, corporal punishment is abolished only because it is an unpopular reminder of lower social status. For example, as St. Paul reminded a Roman soldier, Roman citizens could not be flogged. In most Western countries, it was curtailed or abolished soon after political equality of citizens was achieved: In France after the French Revolution, in Germany after the revolution of 1848, in the United States after the American Revolution and then more completely after the American Civil War. After Great Britain abolished it, her crime rates increased markedly.

Ex-slaves interviewed as part of the Federal Writers' Project from 1936 to 1938 confirmed the effectiveness of corporal punishment, especially to discipline young males. Some ex-slaves said corporal punishment taught them valuable lessons. Female ex-slaves in particular observed that it was needed and effective. While we often associate flogging with slavery in the United States, it was used effectively by General George Washington to discipline his mainly white troops. The Continental Congress initially authorized Washington to apply no more than 40 lashes, but in 1776, Washington sought and obtained authority from Congress to impose 100 lashes. Shortly before the battle of Yorktown, Washington sought authority to impose 500 lashes. Thomas Jefferson provided for "stripes" in a statute he drew for Virginia. In its early years, the United States did without large-scale penitentiaries.

When executed in public, corporal punishment provides a much better example than prison time. It deters crime effectively. Intense pain fills the offender with a desire to avoid pain in the future. The boredom of prison does not impart the same message. Physical punishment provides offenders with an immediate opportunity to change their behavior and join law-abiding society. Before incarcerated convicts can reform, they must first endure a clean version of hell that discourages their improvement and fails to impart the skills they will need when released.

Judicial corporal punishment is far less expensive and time-consuming than incarceration. Incarceration saddles taxpayers with expenses for food, clothing, shelter, medical care, security, personnel costs, building expenses and other burdens. America's 2.3 million inmates are essentially a huge mass of full-ride welfare recipients. Incarceration removes people from the productive economy, cages them, and prevents most of them from working productively or efficiently in the private sector. Prison industries are state businesses and usually only make products for use by the state. There are not nearly enough prison jobs to go around.

Flogging does not preclude incarceration. Like prison time, it can be held over the parolee's or probationer's head. But corporal punishment is faster and more flexible. Several doses of flogging might be administered in the time it takes to serve a one-year prison sentence. Some offenders will want to "get it over with" and plead guilty, accepting responsibility sooner.

Judicial corporal punishment will not break up families, marriages, communities and careers like incarceration does, nor will it increase welfare costs as much as mass incarceration.

Our society abhors the thought of flogging. Rarely portrayed as a valuable punishment, it is often confused with more arbitrary parental corporal punishment. But the more people learn about modern mass incarceration in the United States, the less they will object to judicial corporal punishment. Studies applicable to often-arbitrary and abusive parental corporal punishment do not apply to the rational use of judicial corporal punishment. We do not have scientific studies concerning judicial corporal punishment. All we have is history... and increasing knowledge of the social disaster caused by modern mass incarceration.
About this Author

For documented effectiveness of judicial corporal punishment, please look inside "Prison and Slavery - A Surprising Comparison," John Dewar Gleissner, Esq. graduated from Auburn University (B.A. with Honor, 1973) and Vanderbilt University School of Law (1977).

Women's Right to Property in India

Several legal reforms have taken place since independence in India, including on equal share of daughters to property. Yet equal status remains illusive .Establishment of laws and bringing practices in conformity thereto is necessarily a long drawn out process. The government, the legislature, the judiciary, the media and civil society has to perform their roles, each in their own areas of competence and in a concerted manner for the process to be speedy and effective.
To quote Justice Sujata V. Manohar of Supreme Court of India

"...It is not easy to eradicate deep seated cultural values or to alter traditions that perpetuate discrimination. It is fashionable to denigrate the role of law reform in bringing about social change. Obviously law, by itself, may not be enough. Law is only an instrument. It must be effectively used. And this effective use depends as much on a supportive judiciary as on the social will to change. An active social reform movement, if accompanied by legal reform, properly enforced, can transform society."

Historical perspective
An effective social reform movement does need the help of law and a sympathetic judiciary to achieve its objectives. Women empowerment, equal rights to both men and women, equal share of property, etc., are some of the issues which we discuss everyday, in life, newspaper and on television. But the reality which bites is that these issues are still "unresolved". Not much has actually been done to create equality between the male and female gender. The male still dominates society.

If it's a matter of property, then legally male dominate the society. There are numerous laws that say that there should be no discrimination between the sexes, but in reality none are effective enough to actually bring about a revolution; a change in society.

According to the Indian Succession Act, 1925, everyone is entitled to equal inheritance, except Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Muslims. Under this act, the daughter of a person dying intestate would be entitled only to one-fourth of the son's share, or Rs. 5,000/- (Sthree Dhan), whichever is lesser. The Travancore High Court, however, held that the Indian Succession Act would have no application to the Christian women of the Travancore State in view of the Travancore Christian Succession Act, 1916. Under the State Act, the daughter of a person dying intestate would be entitled only to one-fourth of the son's share or Rs. 5,000/- (Sthree Dhana) whichever is lesser. The application of the State Act was challenged in the Supreme Court in the famous Mary Roy's Case (Mary Roy Vs. State of Kerala, AIR 1986 SC 1011; 1986(2) SCC 209). The Court ruled that the Cochin and Travancore Christian Succession Acts had ceased to be operative on the Reorganization of States and that automatically made the Indian Succession Act applicable to all Kerala Christians bestowing on them equal inheritance rights.

The Hindu Enactment Act, 1956, established that women have equal inheritance rights, as men; and it abolished life estate of female heirs. However, this law could not do the needful as there was another law, the Mitakshara coparcenaries (Hindu Law) that overruled the previous law.
According to Mitakshara coparcenaries, in a joint family, a daughter gets a much smaller share of property compared to the son. While the father's property is shared equally between brother and sister; the brother, in addition, is entitled to a share in the coparcenaries from which the sister is excluded .For example, if the family owns a dwelling house, then the daughter's right is confined only to the right of residence and not possession or ownership.

Recommendations of Women Committees/Commissions on Status of Women in India

In 1975 a committee on the status of women was constituted by the Government of India, to evaluate the current legal provisions in regards to women , so that that a women is not left completely destitute.

Some important recommendations which were made by this committee were that legislative measures should be taken to bring Christian women of Kerala under the Indian Succession Act. The Indian Succession Act should be extended to Goa and Pondicherry respectively to undo the relegation of widows to fourth position in matters of succession and to undo the inferior position to which Christian women are relegated by not being considered as full owners of property. In regards to succession to property among Hindus, the right by birth should be abolished and the Mitakshara co-parcenary should be converted into Dayabhaga (the retention of Mitakshara co-parcenary perpetuates inequality between sons and daughters as only males can be co-parceners, and inheritance is only through the male line). The exception provided in Section 4 (2) of the Hindu Succession Act relating to devolution of tenancies should be abolished (this provision, as it stands now excludes devolution of tenancy rights under various State Laws from the scope of the Act).

The discrimination between married and unmarried daughters regarding right of inheritance of dwelling houses caused under Section 23 of the Hindu Succession Act should be removed.
The right of testation should be limited under the Hindu Succession Act, such that female heirs are not deprived of their inheritance rights. There is need for legislation in Muslim Law to give equal share of property to the widow and daughter along with sons as done in Turkey.

In Matrimonial property, legal recognition should be given to the economic value of the contribution made by the wife through household work for purposes of determining ownership of matrimonial property, instead of continuing the archaic test of actual financial contribution; On divorce or separation, the wife should be entitled to at least one-third of the assets acquired at the time of and during the marriage.

The National Commission for Women had also recommended certain amendments in laws related to women and property. Under Indian Succession Act, 1925 it suggested that Sections 15 and 16 of the Act, should be amended, removing mandatory linkage of wife's domicile with that of the husband. Further, it recommended that appointment of testamentary guardian may be the right of both the parents acting concurrently. Widows should be granted letter of administration to deal with the Estate of the deceased husband unless excluded by the Court for sufficient reasons (Section 219 (a)).and application made by the widow to be disposed of within a year (Section 218 (2).In Hindu Succession Act, 1956 It suggested that equal distribution should be made of not only separate or self acquired properties of the diseased male, but also of undivided interests in co-parcenary property. Daughter of a co-parcener in a Hindu joint family governed by Mitakshara Law to be co-parcener by birth in her own right in the same manner as her son; she should have right of claim by survivorship and to have same liabilities and disabilities as a son ;further co-parcenary property to be divided and allotted in equal share.

The right of any heir to claim partition of a dwelling house to arise only after settlement of widowed mother's rights is disposed with in case the deceased male is intestate.
A remarkable dent in this situation was made by the Hindu Succession [Andhra Pradesh] Amendment Act, 1985, which initiated a remarkable development. This law stated that, in any circumstances, the rights of the daughter are equal to that of the son. This new law found the Mitakshara system in violation of the fundamental right of equality bestowed upon women in Indian Constitution. Following Andhra Pradesh, the States of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala subsequently also amended their laws by including women as members of the coparcenaries.
The Rajya Sabha on August 16, 2005, passed the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Bill, 2004, (Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005,) which is now a law, giving daughters and sons equal rights to property. According to this law, any woman, irrespective of the marital status, has full right to inherit ancestral property just like a son of the family. This law has completely abolished the Hindu Succession Act 1956 by giving equal rights to daughters in the 'Hindu Mitakshara Coparcenary property', as sons have. If however, any of the parents have built some property and have made a will of their own, this law would be ineffective.


Earlier, the law use to put the male heirs on a higher footing by providing that they shall inherit an additional independent share in co-parcenary property over and above what they inherit equally with female heirs; the very concept of co-parcenary was that of "an exclusive male membership club" .Now this concept has` been abolished . But surprisingly, even today, even after the new law, co-parcenary remains a primary entitlement of males; no doubt law provides for equal division of share between all heirs, male and female on the death of a male co-parcener, but in practice the scene is totally different .Legally, Intestate self acquired property devolves equally between male and female heirs; but , even toady female heirs are asked to relinquish their share by making relinquishment deeds on their signature and are commonly submitted in courts. If the intestate property includes a dwelling house, the female heirs have no right to partition until the male heirs choose to divide their respective shares. If a Hindu female dies intestate, her property devolves first to husband's heirs, then to husband's father's heirs and finally only to mother's heirs; thus the intestate Hindu female property is kept within the husband's lien.


To actually achieve equal inheritance for all, the laws have been amended. In regard to succession to property among Hindus, the right by birth has been abolished and the Mitakshara School co-parcenary of Hindu Law has been converted into Dayabhaga School that means equal distribution of not only separate or self acquired properties of the diseased male, but also of undivided interests in coparcenary property. Daughter of a coparcener in a Hindu joint family governed by Mitakshara Law now is coparcener by birth in her own right in the same manner as a son; she has right of claim by survivorship and has same liabilities and disabilities as a son; now co-parcenary property to be divided and allotted in equal share. The theoretical reforms so far have not been adequate to give all Indian women a right to property on the same footing and terms as men. It varies with region and religion. Even where law has given a right, conventions and practices do not recognize them. Women themselves relinquish their rights. Women, as daughters, wives, daughters-in-law, mothers or sisters tend to lose out and often suffer deprivation. This further gets accentuated when they lose the security of the family, as single women, divorced/separated or widowed. Social awareness of the rights under law, attitudes to adhere to it and a mindset to change law and practice to ensure social justice is therefore urgent.
Therefore a social reform movement is necessary for such awareness and change of mindset. Since 'marriage' is the most traditional institution of initiating a family and preserving it, let registration of marriages be made compulsory It is suggested that to achieve more power for women we must Increase awareness of laws through education institutions, general awareness and legal awareness programmes; sensitize Judiciary, administrators and legislators about implementation of laws in letter and spirit; consider long pending recommendations for amendments of legal provisions on inheritance and strengthen the administrative machinery for the purpose.
About this Author

Rakesh J Saxena
Hindu Personal Laws of India

How We Select State Judges

The issue of how state judges are selected in the U.S. has been an area of controversy for more than 150 years. There are a number of variations but generally speaking, state judicial selection takes place by one of two methods - by appointment or by election. Initially judges were appointed by the state governors or legislation. Mississippi in 1832 was the first state to write a provision into their constitution to have voters elect state judges. This eventually became the common method of choice for a majority of states for many years.

During the 1930's some highly publicized cases highlighting the role of corrupt politics in the election process, in judicial decisions and the excessive time involved in campaigning caused many people to rethink the judicial selection process. A new plan, commonly called the Missouri Plan became the model of choice for judicial selections.

The Missouri Plan is a method to combine election and appointment of judges. Under the plan, candidates for judicial vacancies are first selected by commissions. They forward a short list of names to the governor. If the governor does not select one of these names to fill the position within sixty days, the committee makes the selection. After one year during a general election, the judge enters into a "retention election" to determine if he will retain his office. This plan is also referred to as a 'Merit Selection Plan with Governor Appointment'. Currently 24 states use this plan.

Other types of appointment methods are:

Governor Appointment (no selection commission) - in use by 3 states.

Legislative Appointment (no selection commission) - in use by 2 states.

There are two different permutations of the election method of selecting state judges. These are Partisan and Non-Partisan elections. Partisan elections have the candidates' party affiliation listed on the ballot. A non-partisan election is one where the candidates are listed on the ballot with no label designating any party affiliation. Six states use partisan elections and 15 states currently employ the non-partisan election process.

The debate continues to rage over which method most limits the role of politics in the selection of state judges, with many states currently involved in trying to redefine their systems. Missouri faces an initiative on their ballot in November; the state's historical merit selection method would be discarded and replaced by direct judicial elections.

Advocates of appointment claim it minimizes political considerations in the selection of judges, improves the quality of the judiciary and ensures judicial independence in deciding cases. In particular, the use of a judicial nominating commission composed primarily of lawyers and distinguished members of the community is seen as bringing a degree of expertise to the process of picking judges. Their argument in its favor is that, unlike elective systems, the Missouri Plan is more likely to select qualified judges they say, because they are selected by experts. This assumes the voters, as a whole, are apathetic toward judicial races, are not familiar with the issues at hand, and are basically not competent to vote on judicial candidates.

Opponents of the so called merit plan say the selection is swayed by political insiders and the plan has handed influence over the judiciary to lawyers (mostly liberal leaning trial lawyers they contend) and bar associations.

The amount of money spent on judicial elections continues to climb - doubling to more than $200 million over the last decade. Only $2 million was spent on those states using the merit system. More and more special interests groups are raising larger and larger sums of money to upset judges that have upheld laws they oppose. According to Jeffrey Neary, a district judge in Iowa, he barely survived a campaign aimed at removing him for granting a divorce to a same-sex couple. He said the experience made him more cautious about how he approached controversial cases. He is up for retention this year. "I don't want judicial positions to be political positions," he said. "If that happens I don't want to be a judge."

Whatever the outcome, we can be sure the judicial selection process will be one of increasing controversy in the foreseeable future.
About this Author

Texas uses the Partisan Election process to elect their state judges. For issues concerning Criminal Law visit

A Biblical View of Punishment Redefined

A biblical perspective: abandoning retribution as a doctrine for legal punishment

I. Introduction

The Old Testament is filled with different mandates regarding punishment for certain acts and crimes, a great deal of which includes the penalty of death. Conversely, the New Testament somewhat disregards the Old Testament idea of punishment, in that it became secondary to Jesus' message of love and redemption. In this respect, both reward and punishment are seen as taking place in eternity, rather than in this life. How do we reconcile these differing views? What are the reasons for the sharp shifts in these fundamental concepts? Moreover, to what extent should our system of criminal law incorporate these biblical models of justice?

II. Criminal Law

Two broad theories of punishment exist which guide our current criminal justice system: utilitarianism and retribution. These theories guide lawmakers in developing general principles of criminal responsibility.


From a utilitarian perspective, punishment exists to ensure the continuance of society and to deter people from committing crimes. The primary utilitarianism objective is to augment the total happiness of the community by excluding everything that subtracts from that happiness. There are three distinct forms of utilitarianism: A.


The theory of deterrence suggests that the pain inflicted upon a person who has committed a crime will dissuade the offender (and others) from repeating the crime. Deterrence hinges around the idea that punishment has to be appropriate, prompt, and inevitable. Deterrence protects the social order by sending a message to the public at large. An English judge once defined the standard long ago when he remarked, "Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen." The general theory of deterrence is further divided into two categories. General deterrence describes the effect that punishment has when it serves as a public example that deters people other than the initial offender from committing similar crimes. General deterrence illustrates punishment delivered in order to send a message to everyone that crime doesn't pay. Specific deterrence describes the punishment of an individual designed to prevent that individual person from committing future crimes. This idea generates from the concept that it is impossible for an individual to commit another crime while they're in prison. Both forms of deterrence as punishment methods are meant to discourage individuals from recidivating.

B. Incapacitathon

Specific deterrence is very similar to and often takes the form of the notion of incapacitation. Incapacitating a known criminal makes it impossible for this individual to commit another crime. If a criminal is confined, executed, or otherwise incapacitated, such punishment will deny the criminal the ability or opportunity to commit further crimes which will harm society. The only total, irrevocable punishment is the death penalty. Other punishments, such as imprisonment, produce only partial and temporary incapacitation. Incapacitation, however, does not decrease offenses of convicts who would have not committed additional offenses anyway. Examples of this would include generally law-abiding citizens who committed a "crime of passion" in a specific, non-recurring situation.

C. Rehabilitation

Advocates of the rehabilitative form of utilitarianism believe that punishment will prevent future crimes by reforming prisoners by providing them with skills and assets that could help them lead a productive life after their release. Supporters of rehabilitation seek to prevent crime by providing offenders with the education and treatment necessary to eliminate criminal tendencies, as well as the skills to become productive members of society. Rehabilitation seeks, by means of education or therapy, to "bring a criminal into a more normal state of mind and into an attitude which would be helpful to society." Rehabilitation is based on the notion that punishment is to be inflicted on an offender to reform them as to make their re-integration into society easier. This theory is firmly grounded in the belief that one cannot inflict a severe term of imprisonment and expect the offender to be reformed and to able to adjust into society upon his release without some form of help.


The theory of retribution is grounded in the belief that punishment of a wrongdoer is justified as a deserved response to a wrongdoing. Unlike utilitarianism, which punishes in order to prevent future harm, retributivists punish because of the wrongdoing. Thus, the criminal gets his "just deserts" regardless of whether the punishment serves to prevent any future crime. An assessment of desert will take into account "both the harm done and the offender's culpability." The focus on culpability is based on the "presupposition that people are morally responsible for their actions, and requires the court to take into account mitigating factors or excuses such as diminished capacity, duress, and provocation." Under a retributive theory of penal law, a convicted defendant is punished simply because he deserves it and for no other purpose. There is no exterior motive such as deterring others from crime or protecting society - the goal is simply to make the defendant suffer in order to pay for his wrongdoing. Some scholars believe that it is entirely natural for an individual to seek revenge and retribution when injured or harmed by another. Thus, one of the primary reasons for the existence of retribution as a doctrine recognizes the reality that people often need to be relieved of their need to retaliate against those who have wronged them. In fact, it can be argued that it is potentially harmful to the state if it does not satisfy these needs and urges. If the people are not satisfied, as history has shown, then people will sometimes take the law into their own hands in the form of mobs and vigilantes.

III. Biblical Concepts of Punishment

The Old Testament is replete with references and examples of God punishing the Israelites for their transgressions. In Genesis God defines that punishment is based upon a belief in the sanctity of life. God instructs the Israelites in several places within the Pentateuch that with respect to certain crimes, the penalty shall be an "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." A closer look at this historical tradition, however, seems to teach that this penalty was not to be interpreted literally. Instead, what the Biblical instruction really intended was for the victim of an assault or another crime to receive from the criminal the equivalent value of whatever was taken. Regardless, the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" axiom has become synonymous with harsh retribution and supporters of this theory sometimes justify their viewpoint based on this rationale. As well, how do we properly reconcile the prevailing view under the Mosaic Law with the teaching of Jesus? The scriptures tell us that Jesus asked God to forgive his executioners and promised the repentant thief beside him that they would be together in paradise when being crucified. Jesus also told his followers that they were to forgive their enemies, turn the other cheek when assaulted, refrain from judging others, minister to crime victims, visit prisoners, proclaim release to captives and liberty to the oppressed. All of these concepts seem to be in direct contradiction to the punishment concepts laid out under the Mosaic Law, so analyzing the teaching of Jesus to develop our own theory of punishment would prove worthwhile.

Mosaic Law

According to Hebrew teachings, Moses led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt around 1250 B.C. and received the 10 Commandments from God. The Hebrews then put the commandments and other principles into written form as a code of religious and moral laws known as the Mosaic Law. The laws given were in the context of a treaty with the Israelites so they could live according to God's plan and engage in a meaningful relationship with Him. The Hebrew word law when translated always has a positive meaning and is commonly identified as the term "instruction." The law, therefore, was "like an outstretched finger pointing the direction a person should take in life." The Mosaic Law was explicit in its teaching regarding punishment. The sixth commandment was, "thou shall not commit murder." Accordingly, the punishment for murder was, "he who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death." There are 36 eight capital offenses under the Mosaic system detailed in the Pentateuch which prescribed the death penalty. The Mosaic Law even prescribed the death penalty for violating the Sabbath. It would seem on first glance that the Mosaic era centered its system of punishment around principles of retribution. The phrase "an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" expressed a principle of justice also known as lex talionis, which in Latin translates to the "law of retaliation." The literal meaning of this passage would undoubtedly lead one to presume that this calls for punishment very similar to retribution. Prosecutors have even used the phrase in closing arguments in trials to persuade jurors to return particularly harsh punishments, including the death penalty. Accordingly, "an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" is widely understood to equate to harsh retribution pursuant to a mentality commonly referred to as "Old Testament justice." However, what the lex talionis actually called for was simply proportionate punishment commensurate with the crime.

If punishment was to be administered, the guilty man was to receive "the number of lashes his crime deserves." Another passage that disregards the literal interpretation of "an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" is illustrated by the decree in Exodus how a "person who injured their servant was to let them go free as compensation." In other words, a free mandate for mutilation was not given. Instead, "the aim was proportionate and not imitative retribution, often by way of compensation or restitution." From this, it appears that punishment should be imposed on an offender - normally and certainly no more than - in proportion to what their offense deserves. New Testament The Old Testament's "eye for an eye" is often contrasted with the "turn the other cheek" compassion of the New Testament. Jesus' teaching in the New Testament never directly concentrates on the subject of what method is best to punish criminals. In fact, it should be noted that Jesus' main teaching point focuses on the unseen, remarking, "My kingdom is not of this world." One of the main scriptural references that is readily apparent, which accurately demonstrates this concept is the thief on the cross: Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." It is pertinent to recognize that Jesus' assurance of salvation only came into effect after the thief died. It should be noted that Jesus did not restore the thief to his status on this earth, which would have thereby recognized his rehabilitation and repentance for his earthly sins. As shown previously, the concepts of justice and proportionality were recognized under the Mosaic Law, while in the New Testament "the virtues of redemption and forgiveness are frequently extolled." Therefore, what the Old Testament says has to be tempered by the examples of mercy shown by Jesus. Christian interpretation of the biblical passage regarding the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" passage has been heavily influenced by Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Jesus urges his followers to turn the other cheek when confronted by violence: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow." Analyzing this passage would assuredly lead one to conclude that Jesus' teaching does not promote a system of justice analogous to the retributive principles discussed previously. Another New Testament passage that is relevant when analyzing how punishment should be considered is the story of the man and woman caught in adultery: At dawn He appeared in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around Him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees then brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses commanded that such women be stoned. But what do you say?" This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger, as though he did not hear. When they kept questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first even until the last. And Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in His midst. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said to her, "Then neither do I condemn you; go now and sin no more." This passage typifies Jesus' message of forgiveness and redemption. It is hard to justify condemning a person for any offense in light of Jesus' teaching here.

This passage conveys that Jesus personified the message of hope and compassion to those who are perhaps undeserving. I personally believe that Jesus' teaching here was a message to the people that they had perhaps taken the Mosaic Law out of context over the years. Assuming this proposition to be true, it would be hard to rely on the Mosaic Law as a justification for any of the punishment methods in our current society. An additional passage that could be interpreted with regards to those incarcerated is Jesus' teaching describing how He will separate the "sheep from the goats" based on how people treat others: Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?" The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me." Jesus' teaching in this passage is in direct opposition to anything resembling an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to leaving prisoners detained for incapacitation or specific deterrent reasons. Instead, Jesus directly mentions the virtue of visiting prisoners while they are incarcerated and maintains that the righteous are those who remember to consider the individuals who society has forgotten. Taken as a whole, it seems at the very least Jesus warns against not having compassion for those in prison. Jesus' entire message focused on love and forgiveness. When Christ was executed, he gave a model response to his enemies in His dying words: "Father, please forgive them." Before God, all of us are accused and found guilty. This alone stands for the assertion that all of us fall short of God's grace in many ways, yet Jesus through his divine love still finds the compassion to plead for our forgiveness. Given this, I believe it should be hard for any man to stand in judgment against another. Jesus imparted this knowledge in the Sermon on the Mount: "Judge not, or you will be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Based on this, it should be hard for Christians to justify punishment based on traditional retributive principles of letting those harmed seek retaliation in response to a wrongdoing.

Ancient Israel

When interpreting the Mosaic Law it is important to consider that their society was far different from our own. Most religious scholars believe that God revealed to Moses the Torah around the thirteenth century B.C. It was not until the fifth century B.C. that the Hebrews actually put the commandments and other legal principles into written form. According to Jewish tradition, the written Torah was never meant to be read entirely by itself. Rather, it was the starting point for learning the Oral Law, which supplemented the written text in many ways. Considering this, scholars believe that most of the seemingly harsh criminal laws were never applied literally. As such, an "eye for an eye" was never meant to include an actual maiming of an offender. Rather, it called for the monetary compensation for the value of the victim's lost eye. Likewise, there were many significant evidentiary and procedural safeguards for criminal defendants that caused a court to rarely carry out the death penalty, believing God was better suited to "settle accounts." Restitution, rehabilitation, and atonement were paramount considerations regarding criminal punishment - not retribution - contrary to what would likely be assumed given the explicit meaning of "an eye for an eye." Moreover, prison as a method of punishment was virtually non-existent. The use of prisons was limited primarily because the retributive aspect which is so prevalent in our system was not subscribed to as a reason for punishment. That being said, the idea of a violent criminal being able to roam free in the city while trying to make restitution is an absurd idea. It is for this reason why "cities of refuge" were implemented where manslayers were exiled.

IV. Imprisonment as a Form of Punishment in the United States

What is the true aim of our prison system? Some would argue that it is to punish those who have committed wrongs asserting the theory of retribution as justification. However, the more important goal of prisons, arguably, should be in rehabilitating and reintegrating criminals to function in society. John Braithwaite is a renowned scholar and proponent of the restorative justice movement. Braithwaite's hypothesizes in his book Crime, Shame, and Reintegration that fear of shame and having pride in being law-abiding should be the major social forces for preventing crime, but modern criminal justice has become "severely disconnected from those emotions." Instead, the criminal justice system often creates "anger and indignation at the state for offending citizens' dignity in response to the inhumane conditions of prison life." To further support his theory, he invokes the New Testament theory of "hating the sin but loving the sinner." In large part, this rationale is maintained by our increasing reliance on confining individuals within a penitentiary for wrongdoing while having virtually no alternate forms of punishment.

Theory of Incarceration

The overarching remedy in the United States is to punish people when they commit crimes through incarceration. Restitution is sometimes included, although most often it is afforded as a civil remedy and is not considered in the criminal context. As Americans we pride ourselves in our freedom and our ability to freely engage in the "pursuit of happiness." Perhaps the reason we rely so heavily on threatening offenders with incarceration is because by doing this society is effectively taking away a fundamental privilege enjoyed by every American citizen. However, it would unquestionably be wise if legislators and policymakers would evaluate if incarceration is indeed the only way to achieve the objective of discouraging crime. A prevailing view among the law enforcement community reflects the attitude "if you commit the crime, you do the time." Once a person willingly engages in an activity that is prohibited by law we feel that person has subjected itself to the absolute certainty of imprisonment if apprehended. Once incarcerated the prisoner will spend their sentence in the hostile environment of a penitentiary awaiting either parole or release, often subjected to violent crimes from other inmates which are sometimes ignored by prison officials. Our prisoners often face degrading living conditions, filled with overcrowding and a general atmosphere of brutality of physical and sexual violence. These conditions undoubtedly create stress, fear, and anger which promote dysfunctional behavior that is damaging and dangerous to society once the prisoner is released. According to Michael Foucault, given the isolation, boredom, and violence prisoner's face, "the prison cannot fail to produce delinquents." As noted previously prison was almost completely ignored in Ancient Israel as a method of punishment. The Israelites did not see any objective to locking someone up in a cell without using this time to make them more productive members of society. One flaw of our system that was recognized with the Ancient Israelites centuries ago was the benefit of segregating criminals within the cities of refuge based on the degree of offense. Only negligent killers were allowed asylum in the cities of refuge, while intentional and reckless killers were not afforded this privilege. In our current system violent criminals often are interspersed with other offenders who are confined for far less serious offenses. Empirical studies have shown that recidivism rates are far lower if low-risk offenders are segregated from more serious offenders.

A Debt Owed to Society

It is often said that a criminal who has served a term of imprisonment has "paid his debt to society." In almost every case, however, the crime usually involves the criminal offender and some victim. Notwithstanding, society as a third party intervenes and our concept of justice revolves around payment to, it as opposed to the victim. Victim participation, from arrest to sentencing, needs careful examination as to what extent the government should actually play in these roles. The idea that the criminal pays a debt to society when punished assumes that "all members of society have made a tacit promise to obey its laws that they have broken." They then pays this debt when the "compensates society for their broken promises." This assumption presumes a membership that is not "voluntary which cannot be avoided and implies a promise made without assent." So, if the criminal did not "technically promise to do anything, the lawbreaker had no promise to keep, and therefore no debt to pay." For this reason few offenders accept punishment and even fewer repent of their offenses. Our system has lost sight in many respects the role of the victim in most crimes. For instance, with most thefts monetary restitution is usually neglected in our present legal practices. Punishment is not concerned with the actual loss or damage caused by the prohibited act, but only with the integrity of preserving the legal order. The punishment threatened by society proclaims the wrongness of the act and seeks to deter potential offenders, rather than actually compensate individual victims. If society is to be compensated for anything it should be for the breach of its peace. Our criminal justice system knows no other remedy except imprisonment in order to punish for crimes which possibly could be satisfied by alternate means.

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is a growing movement that involves an approach which strives to maximize forgiveness, hope, and a positive outcome for all parties. The Dalai Lama is a strong proponent of restorative justice, and has taught that "the more evil the crime, the greater opportunity for grace." In the words of the Dalai Lama: "Learning to forgive is much more useful than merely picking up a stone and throwing it at the object of one's anger, the more so when provocation is extreme. For it is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and for others." Advocates of restorative justice see "crime as an opportunity to prevent greater evils, to confront crime with a grace that transforms human lives to paths of love and giving." Current restorative justice philosophy centers around "bringing together all stakeholders to engage in neutral dialogue regarding the consequences of the injustice which has been done." These stakeholders meet in a circle to discuss how they have been affected by the harm and come to some agreement as to what should be done to right any wrongs affected. The key component to restorative justice is that it is wholly distinguishable from punitive state justice. Restorative justice is about healing rather than hurting. Responding to the hurt of crime with the hurt of punishment is rejected because the idea is that the "value of healing is the crucial dynamic." The restorative justice movement has been growing in strength, although there are different and conflicting conceptions of what exactly the concept entails. The central theme is a process of reparation or restoration between offender, victim and other interested parties.


As a society we must help alienated people by reviving their dignity and giving them the skills and knowledge to help themselves. Through education and job training, criminals can have the power to take control of their own life and contribute to the community when they are released. Once able to contribute to the community, a person will feel a sense of ownership to the community. They will therefore want to protect the community, and uphold its laws. In short, a criminal with the right rehabilitation can be turned from a menace to society into a very valuable asset. The primary goal optimally should be the reintegration of the suspended individual back into the main stream of life, preferably at level greater than before. Many individuals after their stint in prison try to make it on the outside, but sometimes have to resort to committing more crime in order to survive. Most convicts have no money, education, or training and have a "stigma of being an ex-convict" which makes finding employment all the more difficult. Most of those who are caught and convicted are released either free or on probation at some point. However, they rarely receive the benefit of treatment. A prisoner who is not given the chance to get an education, receive job training, and have healthy interactions with others is likely to walk out of prison in worse shape than when he went in. Conversely, after undergoing effective reform programs and treatment, he could hopefully have a positive impact on the community when he re-enters. The true aim of our prison system, therefore, should be to reform and rehabilitate criminals, not simply to punish them.

VI. Conclusion

Policy towards offenders has grown more punitive, and thus more retributive, over the last few decades. Most states and the federal government have instituted mandatory sentencing guidelines, the lengths of sentencing has grown tougher, and harsher penalties have been imposed reflecting this retributive shift. As a result, the prison population has exploded out of control and the rate of incarceration has increased exponentially. Considering the amount of individuals who have spent time in some form of a correctional facility within the United States, we must collectively assess what we realistically expect of these people after they are released. This article is not advocating that we incorporate implicitly the techniques used by the Ancient Israelites such as the cities of refuge or involuntary servitude because these methods are likely outdated. Rather, it is suggesting that anyone using a conception of punishment based on strict principles of harsh retribution using "Old Testament justice" as justification are relying on a misguided view. Although popular perception might be that the Ancient Israelites used harsh retribution as the cornerstone for meting punishment, a closer examination indicates that rehabilitation and restitution were their primary goals. As such, while specifically incorporating their ideas such as the cities of refuge might be impracticable in our current society, their underlying ideas for their use may not be. Surrounding criminals with positive influences, preserving a humane environment for prisoners, protecting their physical safety, allowing for opportunities for education, and an increased reliance on intermediate forms of confinement are all factors that might serve to collectively improve the U.S. penal system. These are all utilitarian objectives aimed at improving society, so abandoning the notion of retribution as punishment might be required under a Biblical conception. Moreover, while the teaching of Jesus focused on the eternal concepts of life, it is undeniable that His message included the virtues of exhibiting grace and mercy to those undeserving. Therefore, locking prisoners in an inhumane environment with absolutely no consideration for their well-being is in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught that his grace and love is available for anyone who will receive Him. The scripture never indicates that there is anyone who is beyond the infinite love of the Savior of our world. Accordingly, anything akin to an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to warehousing criminals in a cruel and callous environment assuredly cannot be justified pursuant to the teachings of Jesus.
About this Author

Carl David Ceder is passionate about reading about ancient times and comparing it to many modern day problems, please visit his website at or