Types of Punishment

Types of Punishment
(a) Capital Punishment

Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the legal taking of the life of a criminal. The law allows for the death of the offender as punishment for the crime or crimes committed. It is one of the most severe forms of punishment as it involves taking the life of an individual. The objectives of capital punishment are; retribution, as the life of the offender is taken as vengeance for the life of the victim; deterrence as other potential offenders will fear death as a punishment; and incapacitation as the offender will be permanently removed from society.

(b) Imprisonment

Imprisonment is the restraint or confinement of an offender’s liberty as punishment for committing a crime. It could be for a few hours or for life. The court usually determines the length of imprisonment based on the crime committed.  It also looks at any maximum or minimum terms set out under the respective law criminalising the action. The main objective of imprisonment is incapacitation. However, prison sentences are often meted out to serve other objectives.  This includes deterrence of the offender from recidivism.  Imprisonment also serves as a deterrence for other potential offenders.

(c) Judicial Corporal Punishment

Judicial Corporal punishment is the purposeful infliction of physical pain on the offender. The rationale for corporal punishment is that intense pain will fill the offender with a desire to avoid pain in the future and provide him with an immediate opportunity to change his behaviour and join law-abiding society. Many countries have abolished judicial corporal punishment.

(d) Fines

A fine is a sum of money that an offender pays as punishment for committing a crime. The purposes of imposing a fine is to punish the offender, compensate the state for the offense and deter future criminal acts. The court may also order an offender to pay a fine to the victim of the crime as restitution. When a crime affect the material and personal well-being of another person, the court may order the offender to pay money to the victim, to restore him or his property to the position he was before the crime was committed.

(e) Compensation

Compensation as a punishment bears some resemblance to damages awarded in civil litigation. When a crime is committed against a person, the victim may lose property, money or incur damages or injuries. The court may therefore decide to compensate the victim in addition to punishing the offender.

(f) Forfeiture and Confiscation

PunishmentForfeiture is the involuntary relinquishment of money or property as a punishment for a crime. This includes subject matter forfeiture, instrumentality forfeiture or forfeiture of the proceeds of a crime. Subject matter forfeiture is where the subject matter of an offence is forfeited as punishment for example if the offence is transporting of ivory, the ivory being the subject matter of the offence, is forfeited.

Instrumentality forfeiture is where an item used to commit the crime is forfeited. Therefore, in the example where the crime is transporting ivory, the vehicle used to transport the ivory is an instrument used to commit the offence and is forfeited. Forfeiture of proceeds of crime means that any income the offender might have got out of commission of the crime is forfeited. There is also asset forfeiture which goes beyond instrumentality and proceeds of crime forfeiture as assets of the offender which may not be directly linked to the specific crime are forfeited as they are deemed to have been acquired as a result of his criminal activity.

(g) Costs

This is a punishment where the court orders the offender to pay for the costs of the criminal proceedings. The court may order the offender to pay the costs that the victim and/or witnesses incurred in travelling to and from the trial venue or any other costs associated with the trial.

(h) Security to Keep Peace/ Security for Good Behaviour

Once the court convicts an offender, it may require the offender to execute a bond that the offender will maintain a certain conduct for a specified period of time. The offender may be subject to additional penalties if he breaks the conditions of the bond.

(i) Suspended Sentence

The court often gives suspended sentences as an alternative to a fine or imprisonment. The court imposes a sentence but suspends it for a period of time, either conditionally or unconditionally. If the offender contravenes the conditions of a suspended sentence, he will be expected to serve the full sentence originally imposed.

(j) Discharge

A discharge is a criminal sentence whereby the court finds the offender guilty but does not register a conviction or impose any punishment. The offender may be discharged if it is in his best interest and not against the public interest. A discharge may be either absolute or conditional. In the case of an absolute discharge, the court does not give any conditions for discharge.  However, in the case of a conditional discharge, the court may give conditions which the offender has to comply with up to a certain period of time specified by the court. Conditions include reporting to court, to a police station or to a probation officer at regular intervals, attending treatment including counselling or rehabilitation, keeping the peace, not having contact with certain individuals or not leaving the jurisdiction of the court.

(k) Probation

A court may order an offender to serve a term of probation, during which time the offender must meet certain conditions, including reporting to a probation officer, remaining crime-free or attending treatment. The court can impose probation as an alternative to jail term or after the offender has served a portion of a jail sentence. Failure to follow the conditions of probation can result in the offender serving jail term.

(l) Community Service

Punishment In the case of community service, offender does some paid or unpaid work which is beneficial to the community. Thus, a community service sentence combines punishment with activities carried out in the community. The requirements for community service aim to punish the offender, to change his behaviour and to make amends to the victim of the crime and the local community.

(m) Revocation of Rights

The court may also punish an offender by revoking his rights. The court may revoke a right temporarily by suspending it for a period of time or permanently by cancelling it or disqualifying the offender. Examples of revocation of rights include suspending or cancelling of licences and permits, disqualifying the offender from carrying out certain activities or from holding a certain office or position in government or in a company.

Author: DidiWamukoya

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