- Page ID
Retribution, arguably the oldest of the ideologies/philosophies of punishment, is the only backward-looking philosophy of punishment. That is, the primary goal of retribution (in its original form) is to ensure that punishments are proportionate to the seriousness of the crimes committed, regardless of the individual differences between offenders, other than mens rea and an understanding of moral culpability. Thus, retribution focuses on the past offense, rather than the offender. This can be phrased as “a balance of justice for past harm.” People committing the same crime should receive a punishment of the same type and duration that balances out the crime that was committed. The term-backward-looking means that the punishment does not address anything in the future, only for the past harm done.