There are five types of the theories of punishment:

  1. Retributive
  2. Deterrent
  3. Preventive
  4. Expiatory
  5. Reformative

Retributive Theory

It is primitive theory. Punishment satisfies the feeling of revenge. In older times injured person takes revenge by causing injury to other. ‘An eye for an eye; ‘a tooth for a tooth’ was the law. Mostly injured persons and not the state initiate legal proceedings. The society believed it to be a private wrong.  Punishment as an end itself.

Criticism- Punishment is regarded as method of protecting society because social welfare is considered to be of paramount importance. Moreover, this theory is gradually losing ground in modern times.

Deterrent theory

It deters the criminal for committing crime in future. Also, It sets example for other also that who will commit crime will punishable likewise. Moreover, it creates fear in the mind of wrongdoer. Purpose is to protect individual interest in the society.

Criticism- Though this widely accepted theory but it is not suitable in all cases. Sometimes one commits a crime under the heat or passion or in extreme excitement where he loses his mental balance and commits an offence. On the other hand when offender is once punished, undergoes imprisonment he is no longer afraid of the same.

Preventive Theory

The purpose of punishment is to serve as a preventive measure in commission of crime. Punishing preliminary crime like abetment, conspiracy, attempt etc. is the prevention to big crime. In ancient times offender was prevented from doing crime again by disabling him permanently. For example the punishment for theft was cutting hands of the offender. Moreover, in modern times some other preventive measures are applied like forfeiture of office, suspension, cancellation of licenses.

Criticism- After suffering punishment criminal becomes shameless and fearless and become professional criminal.

Expiatory Theory

Punishment is kind of expiation. Moreover, Punishment is necessary for purification of offender. In view of Hindu jurists expiation washes away sin.

Criticism- Suffering must be equivalent to guilt but there is no way or rule regarding it.

Reformative Theory

The purpose of the punishment is rehabilitation of wrongdoer. Reformative means to restore person back to the society as good citizen. A man is not born a criminal and after all he is human being.  One commits crime because he suffers from some disease and that disease must be cured like some other disease. Above all, Juvenile justice is good example for of reformative theory. Keeping the juvenile offenders under special care homes and giving them a way to livelihood has yielded good results.

Criticism- One cannot apply this theory to hardcore or repeated criminals. If prison will be very comfortable then it will become dwelling house for poor and unemployed.

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