Recidivism and Retributive Justice

Law and order are among the most significant aspects that lead to the stability of the communities within a country since it enables different individuals to live with utmost respect and harmony. The judicial system within a nation is the arm of the government that ensures that there is law and order within the nation (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). The justice and reconciliation departments ensure that individuals who commit various forms of crime are held responsible for their acts. The justice system has various approaches to punishing individuals who have been found guilty of committing different forms of crime before concluding that an individual is guilty of a given crime(de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). Some of the significant factors considered before concluding that one is guilty and should be subjected to a given form of punishment are the moral and causal aspects of the events.

One of the most effective approaches used in punishing criminals within the justice system is the retributive theory. The retributive theory of punishment majorly aims at ensuring that the punishment that an individual is subjected to is directly proportional to the crime committed (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). This helps in creating a balance making the affected side feel satisfied that justice has been served. Systems that believe in retributive justice ensure that the perpetrators of various crimes should suffer the pain they have caused others (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). This can be described as an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

The retributivism approach of criminal punishment majorly considers the moral aspect of the crime committed. The community members have set up moral guidelines that need to be adhered to for a peaceful community (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). Some crimes are considered to be capital offenses by members of society and hence attract very harsh punishment under the retributive punishment approach (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). Some of the major capital offenses within the community include rape and murder, which under the retributive approach are punishable by the death penalty.

Retributive justice implementation is mostly not concerned with the consequences related to the punishment but mostly relies on the impacts of the crime committed on the victims of the offender. The two main principles that implement retributive punishment effectively are proportionality and desert. Proportionality majorly aims at ensuring that the degree of punishment is equivalent to the degree of the crime committed (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). However, the desert principles strive to highlight some of the major reasons that prompted an individual to commit various criminal acts and find a suitable punishment for the offenders.

A justice system that has embraced the retributive approach treats every punishment as a payback. It majorly aims at ensuring that the victims are compensated to their satisfaction both mentally and emotionally. They also believe that when the culprits are not punished according to the degree of their crime, the probability of them committing the same act is high (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). The retributive theory of criminal punishment also aims at doing away with the aspect of unfair advantage within society (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). An unfair advantage is when individuals commit criminal acts to benefit themselves without working hard for the benefits leaving hardworking individuals with nothing. Subjecting such free riders to retributive punishment will help deal with the menace of unfair advantage within society.

Recidivism is one of the major concepts of criminal justice whereby it portrays instances where an individual convicted of a given criminal act is arrested for committing a similar offense within society. It majorly looks into an individual’s behaviors and personal characteristics that may repeatedly motivate a person to commit certain acts (National Institute of Justice, 2018). Recidivism provides a better approach that enables an individual to be rearrested, reconvicted, and taken back to prison (National Institute of Justice, 2018). The offender can also be taken back to prison without trial if the court of law finds out that the offender has committed a similar crime within less than three years of the previous arrest.

The justice system majorly aims at making the community a safe place for every member regardless of their background. Recidivism also provides a proper measure that allows the incapacitation of various individuals from society (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). Incapacitation is the process whereby individuals whose existence is dangerous for the member of the community are eliminated from the community in a justified manner. One of the major ways in which an individual can be eliminated from the community is through deportation if the individual is not originally from the nation (de Oliverira Morsh, 2019). One can also be given life imprisonment, or by death sentence if the offender is found guilty of committing a serious crime that cost the lives of many citizens.

An individual may also be put under specific deterrence by the court of law through the recidivism approach. Specific deterrence is a situation whereby the court of law hinders an individual from committing a certain crime for the second time through sanctions (National Institute of Justice, 2018). When the individual is found to have committed the same crime again after a specific deterrence, they can be subjected to sentencing without trial. This approach also helps in reducing the levels of danger brought about by the offender within the community (National Institute of Justice, 2018). However, suppose the judge ascertains that an individual’s behaviors can be repaired. In that case, recidivism can be implemented to ensure that they are admitted into various rehabilitation centers to enable them to change their behaviors positively for the benefit of the community (National Institute of Justice, 2018). For example, an individual found guilty of peddling illegal drugs can be taken to the rehabilitation center to educate on the benefits of abstaining from the use of such drugs.

Ensuring recidivism within the justice system aims to enable an offender to reach the desisting stage. The distance stage is when convicted individual reaches the point where they do not want to commit any crime and enjoy their freedom (National Institute of Justice, 2018). Individuals who have served their jail sentences or rehabilitation may either be recidivated or resistant. Recidivism can also be used to evaluate the performance of the prisons by checking on the number of individuals coming out of the facility as reformed people. The more the number of reformed individuals in the facility, the better the quality of the prison (National Institute of Justice, 2018). Prisons also subject most of their inmates to various short courses and training that enable them to be productive individuals.

Recidivism is also considered an age-conscious punishment approach since it considers the ages of the offenders. This approach has enabled the development of various juvenile centers where individuals who have not reached the age of an adult can still face trial in a court of law and still get sentenced (National Institute of Justice, 2018). Underaged individuals who are found guilty are jailed in juvenile detention and correctional facilities to ensure they are kept away from communal settings (National Institute of Justice, 2018). This will help in keeping society a safer place and reduce the possibility of them influencing other young people into committing various crimes. Juvenile correctional facilities also enable young individuals to the negative impacts of being denied freedom at a younger age so that they start living a crime-free life.


de Oliveira Marsh, B. (2019). Retribution vs. Restoration: Tendencies of the Criminal Justice System. Dominican Scholar. Web.

National Institute of Justice. (2018). Recidivism. Web.

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LawBirdie. "Recidivism and Retributive Justice." March 27, 2023.