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Crime and Punishment


Crime and Punishment Revision Booklet

Knowledge and Understanding

This booklet is designed to help you with your preparation for the GCSE exam. In the booklet is information on the topic of Crime and Punishment.

How to answer the question?

Knowledge and understanding on its own will not ensure that you get a good GCSE grade. The most important thing to learn is how to structure your answers to the questions I the exam. Within the booklet you will find possible exam questions. You should complete these questions’ exams practise is VERY IMPORTANT!!

What is in the Folder?

The folder will cover the following topics:

1. Good and Evil Intentions and Actions

2. Causes of Crime

3. Types of Crime

4. Aims of Punishment

5. Treatment of Criminals

6. Prison

7. Corporal Punishment

8. Community Service

9. Death Penalty

10. Forgiveness

11. Glossary


13. Exam Techniques

14. WAWOS – 12-mark question

15. Practice Questions

Good and Evil Intentions and Actions

There are those who suggest that people who commit the worst crimes are evil. But what exactly is ‘evil’ and where does it come from? Similarly, what is meant by ‘good’ and where does that come from?

1.Good and Evil Intentions and Actions

Most religions will instruct their followers to keep the laws of the country in which they live. They should only break a law in certain circumstances, such a protect life, for example, or if they are being challenged to break a key principle of their own religion.


Evil is something that is profoundly immoral and wicked and is usually seen as depraved and malicious.

Good is defined as morally excellent, virtuous and pious.


The Qur’an says that there is a devil who was an angel. Allah ordered the angels to bow to Adam, but Iblis refused. Iblis was expelled from paradise, but was able to cause Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden. Iblis continually tempts and pushes humans to be wicked. Humans fail to show self-discipline, and give in to Iblis’ temptations. Evil is a mix of powerful evil being and the weakness of humans.


Evil is seen as the abuse of the free will God gave to humans which allowed them to choose right from wrong. In order to be able to see and appreciate good, then evil has to exist. Most Christians believe in a figure called the devil or Satan, who is an evil power, though ultimately less powerful than God. The Devil continually tries to tempt people and encourage them to behave badly. So, evil is a combination of internal and external factors.

How do we deal with Evil?

Through a country’s justice system, a person will be punished when found guilty of a crime. In the UK it takes forms from imprisonment through to fines and exclusions. In other countries, punishment can be harsher, with corporal and capital punishment. However, crimes affect people beyond the actual event; they have emotional impact which can be long lasting. The victims have to be helped, and everyone else reassured.

Most religious people believe that people who do wrong are still redeemable, that they are not themselves evil, and can be brought back to good ways. Religions believe in evil actions rather than evil people.

2. Causes of Crime

Mental illness - The state of mind of a person may lead them into crime., they might have serious psychological issues with no understanding of right or wrong, might feel no guilt or compassion for others; might enjoy hurting others; might have educational learning issues and be easily led into crime; or are themselves victims of some event which has disturbed their minds, e.g. Depression or an abusive upbringing.

Upbringing – this might include the environment a person is brought up in. the morals of the family/friends/neighbourhood, whether a person is surrounded by crimes or criminal activity and the social and financial status of the family.

Opposition to existing laws – crimes are committed in protest about laws that exist that are considered wither unfair or for the benefit of a select few in society. Sometimes laws have to be broken to get laws to be changed.

Poverty – a person might commit a crime because they see no other alternative way to survive. They may have no money, no job or cannot provide for themselves or their children.

Reasons for crime

Addiction – A person may have an addiction, for example, to alcohol, drugs, sex or money which leads them into crime to feed their habit or their cravings. They may even be addicted to crime, e.g. stealing.

Greed/hate – Emotions are often responsible for crime, our reactions to what goes on around us or that others have or do to us. We always want more so inherently we are greedy. People do bad things to us so hate leads us to take revenge and commit crimes.

What would religion say about this?

All religions would say that law should be followed. St Paul tell Christians to ‘obey the law of the land’. In all religions, a law is a law and if you break that law, the punishment shall follow. Crime is never right, sometimes there are understandable reasons why it does happen. If all people lived by the principles of ‘love your neighbour’ or ‘treat others as we wish to be treated’ or Hindu idea of ‘ahimsa’ crime might disappear. The phrase to ‘hate the sine not the sinner’ can be used here. Criminals often need our help rather than our judgement. However, punishments have to be given or society would be chaotic but at the same time the causes of crime have to be removed.

3. Types of Crime

All societies have laws to protect individuals, protect property and make society safe. When someone breaks the law, they commit a crime. In the UK, millions of crimes are committed each year. Many are not reported or followed up because they are considered trivial or the victim is too embarrassed or scared to say anything.

Bye-laws – are made by elected councilors and apply to local area. They cover things like parking, alcohol free zones and environmental issues. Breaking a bye-law can result in a fine. but you do not get a criminal record.

Men are more likely to commit crimes than women.

Most crimes are committed by people under the age of 25 years.

Parliamentary laws – are made by Government and apply to everyone in the country. These laws also put crime into two categories. Non-indictable offences, e.g. minor crimes and driving offences. These are dealt with by the Magistrates’ Court.

Indictable offences are much more serious crimes. These are dealt with in Crown Court with a judge and jury, and usually carry harsher potential penalties.

It is very difficult to say which of these is the worst. The victim of an assault may say that crimes against a person are the worst as they have a personal experience of them. Where a country is put at risk by someone’s actions, millions can be affected, so maybe crimes against the State are the worst. Crimes against property, such a burglary have long term negative impacts on the victims and often these take longest to get over.

There are three key terms of crimes:

· Crimes against the person- offences causing direct harm to a person, e.g. murder rape, GBH and hate crimes.

· Crimes against property – offences that damage or deprive people of their property, e.g. arson, burglary. Trespassing

· Crimes against the State – offences that potentially endanger everyone or affect the smooth running of society e.g. terrorism, selling state secrets, perjury.

Protection – the legal system is to protect society.

Vindication – the law has to impose punishment for the crimes committed

Reparation – making up for what damage has been done.

4.Aims of Punishment

It is important to justify the decisions made regarding the choice of punishments, society set up the rules and we have to obey them or face the consequences. What one person thinks is very wrong, another person might consider less so. That is why we have a judicial system that sets tariffs for punishments to guide judges in the sentences they hand down.


A punishment is meant to be unpleasant and a deterrence, so that the offender is put off committing crimes in the future. A burglar who gets sent to prison for five years will hopefully not want to experience that again.

Islamic law has a tough consequence for the criminal in the hope that they will deter criminals. Christianity agrees with deterrence but not through such harsh punishments e.g. many Christians are against the death penalty. Some religions are for a positive punishment such as community service or education programmes which would deter the criminals in the future.


This is taking revenge on the offender; simply put it means ‘getting your own back’. When people break the law someone somewhere is almost always hurt even if it means they are just upset or angry. Most people follow the law so it is not fair that a few people want to just ignore the rules and so as they please. Society uses punishment to make the offender pay for what they have done and show support for the victim. Islam support a ‘life for a life’ for murderers where appropriate. Many Christians believe that a criminal should serve their time, but that the death penalty makes the law as bad as the criminal. Revenge is not an appropriate reason