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Crime and Punishment GCSE RE 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

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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 for punishment.


Obviously society cannot simply lock up everyone who breaks the law and throw away the key. Many punishments are given to try to change the nature of the person who has offended. This is because most people who break the law are going to still continue to be part of society.

All religions agree with this but in different ways. Under Shari’ah law (in the countries practising it) harsh punishment like lashing and removal of limbs can reform the individuals. Christians believe that many can be reformed through working with criminals, counselling, educations programmes etc. Reformation as an aim has been central to all prison reform in Britain since the early 19th Century. Quaker Elizabeth Fry was a major force in prison reform.

5. Treatment of Criminals

Custodial Sentences

Locking the offender up

Prisons (adult)

The UK has different types of prisons. High security are category A and B and house the most dangerous offender. Category C is for those serving shorter sentences and category D are open prisons for first-time offenders and those due to be released.

High Security mental health institutions

House offenders with serious psychological disorders, who threaten the safety of others and themselves, e.g. psychopaths, sociopaths, schizophrenics.

Young Offenders


House offenders classed as children (under 18 years of age). Routines are specifically targeted at children’s needs.

Non-custodial sentences

Alternatives to prisons


Anti-Social Behaviour Order sets restrictions that the offender must stick tom e.g. curfew, not go to certain places.

Community Service

Unpaid work in the community, for up to 200 hours. They do not have a choice in what they do although their offence and experience may influence magistrates


Must return home by a set hour, often used with tagging

Electronic Tagging

An electronic surveillance device attached to their leg


A set amount of money must be paid for the offence


Offenders must meet regularly with a probation office who monitors behaviour

Restorative Justice

Young offenders attend sessions to look at their crime. Why it was wrong and its effect on the victim, often including meeting with their victims.

Christianity – Christians believe the law has a responsibility to punish and care for the criminal whilst trying to reform them. Whilst in prison removes freedoms, separated prisoners from families and removes their rights, it also has concern for their reform to be released back into society. Therefore, there can be conflict between severe punishments and the Christian belief in help, love and reform. most Christians do believe in people being treated humanely and fairly, giving them a chance to face up to their crime, serve a fair punishment and have a second chance to turn their lives around.

Attitudes of religion to offenders

For a religion to assess its attitude to offenders, various issues have to be looked at:

· The types of crime committed – lesser or serious

· The violence used and the suffering of the victim

· The reasons that caused the criminal to commit the crime

· Who has committed the crime and their circumstances

· Is the criminal the best punishment considered to serve the aims desired old enough to be responsible for their actions?

Each religion has general attitudes to punishments, but also has the belief that each case has to assessed individually on its own merits. No crime is exactly the same as another and for that reason punishments can be different.

Islam – the Qur’an emphasises the justice of Allah and the idea and accountability of one’s actions. It talks of mercy and forgiveness. The legal system prescribes punishments for crimes such as murder, rape, theft and punishments include capital punishment, imprisonment and lashings. Muslim scholars believe that extreme punishments are not used widely and that most Muslim countries have modern prisons and principles of fair treatment of criminals. Justice must be done though and the victims should be compensated. Victims can accept compensation from the criminal who then is given a lesser sentence and Allah looks favourably on that.

Prison is used as a punishment across the countries of the world as society needs to feel safe from dangerous people. There are many types of prison in the UK, from high security to open prisons. There is great debate about the following:

· Which criminals should be sent to prison

· The conditions that prisoners are kept in

· The work that is done with the prisoners to reform them

· Whether prison actually achieves its aims, especially in the light of the high cost.

6. Prison

Christianity in Britain has played a big role in the prison debate. Whilst Christians support their use, they are concerned about the way they are run and levels of reoffending. Many prisons contain troubled individuals who need social help, education, medical help, and work and life skills and as Christians there is a duty of care and help which is based in religious teachings. Even criminals deserve fair and humane treatment, are more likely to respond positively to them, other Christians have different views, and believe that life in prison should be tough to act as a deterrent. If prison life was tough enough, then prisoners would not want to reoffend.

The Islamic attitude agrees with this, that a severe punishment can lead to reform better than reformative actions themselves.

Parole – means that a person can be released early having served some of their sentence. When on parole they must live within the law and are supported by a parole officer, who will help them to reintegrate into society. The parole order may require them to have treatment, e.g. for drug abuse. The aim is to help them avoid re-offending and become active and purposeful members of society.

Organisation profile

The Prison Reform Trust was founded in 1981. It works to create a more humane and effective penal system. It provides advice, information, educational work, research and campaigning. Its work has been very effective in achieving change in prisons, as well as in the policies and practices of the penal system,

Fact! February 2013 saw 1,320 under eighteens being held in prisons

Fact! 47% of prisoners have no qualifications

Fact! It costs £60,000 per year to keep someone in a young offender institution

Fact! 52% of young offenders were permanently excluded from school

Fact! There is one suicide per week in English and Welsh prisons

Fact! Prisoners spend on average just £1.96 on each inmate’s food daily

Fact! 54% of women prisoners have children under sixteen at home

7.Corporal Punishment


Most Christians do not agree with it, believing it does not help reform criminals, as it is more about retribution and taking revenge. Jesus himself was flogged before he was hung on the cross. The quotations ‘and a rod for a fool’s back’ (Proverbs 26:3) and Psalm 89, “I will punish transgressions with the rod” allow some Christians to justify physical punishment of children as chastisement. No Christian country in the developed world uses corporal punishment in their justice system.

Corporal punishment is to use physical pain as a punishment for a criminal act. It deliberately inflicts pain through whipping, branding or amputation (removal of a body part)

This type if punishment only remains in parts of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America.


Islamic law allows corporal punishment, “A thief male and female cut off the hand of both” (Qur’an 5:38)”If a woman or man is guilty of adultery, flog each of them 100 stripes’ (Qur’an 24:2). In many Muslim countries, the Law of Compensation can be used which swaps corporal punishment for paying compensation. Some extreme Muslim groups do uses these punishments quite freely, though.

Sanctity of life in relation to corporal and capital punishment

Even the lives of criminals are sacred. Most religious believers agree there is an aspect of God to each individual. So corporal and capital punishment – as they damage/end life – are both incompatible with this idea.

8. Community Service

Religious attitudes to community service(payback)

Religions would support its use. Orgainsed properly, it is suitable for the type of criminal it is designed to reform. Communities can benefit, with damage repaired or expertise shared. Prison can mean people mixing with individuals far worse than them and therefore it can have a negative influence. Being separated from family and loss of jobs can lead to long-term problems whereas community services does not have this impact. This punishment does not work for some people and they get involved in further crime. Some occasions they type of service or payback has not been suitable it is too soft a punishment and does not bring the reform necessary or create the deterrent it needs to. If the punishment had been tougher, then perhaps further crime could have been prevented.

Community services is often call ‘Community Payback’ when referring to it as a punishment. Community sentences can be given of the criminal is convicted of a crime but are not sent to prison. The punishments involve doing unpaid work in the local community, like cleaning up a park.

Payback is working in a local area and managed by a community payback supervisor. High-visibility yellow vests will be worn. Punishment time is between 40 and 300 hours’ dependent upon the crime and if the person is unemployed it might mean 3 – 4 days a week working.

Aims – community payback is intended to help with the problem that caused the crime and hopefully means that the crimes are not repeated. People could be helped with addictions, mental health or simply leaning new necessary skills. Payback programmes could include: counselling sessions, drug tests, anger management and mental health help, literacy skills and job applications. There is appositive nature to this type of punishment, as opposed to locking someone up in prison. Anyone seen as a danger to society they would not be considered for such a programme. It is lesser punishment for lesser crimes.

Community sentences can be given for less serious crimes such as damaging property or drink driving. It is seen as more positive than prison and the judge might think that it could have a better effect than sending them to prison. It allows people to carry on working and doing the payback in the evenings. This enables them to keep their job.

The death penalty is Capital Punishment. it is usually reserved for the most extreme offences, usually murder. Worldwide other crimes such as blasphemy, adultery, drug offences, corruption, fraud, smuggling, treason, hijacking and war crimes are capital offences.

The crimes are seen as so bad that no other punishment would be suitable. People who commit such horrific acts must face the most severe punishment, so that justice is seen to be done and deterred others from committing these crimes. ‘an eye for an eye’ is seen as the law of equality of retribution in Islam. A murderer shows no respect for human life. Many Holy books name certain offences as being punishment by death.

9. Death Penalty

Some arguments for Capital punishment

· An ‘eye for an eye, life for a life’ means that murderers should pay with their life.

· It is a deterrent; therefore, it puts people off committing horrendous crimes.

· It brings justice for the victims and their families

· Life sentences do not mean life; murderers walk free on average after sixteen years.

· It is a waste of resources housing criminals for their entire life.

· This is the only way to totally protect society from the worst murderer who it is believed cannot be reformed.

· The Principle of Utility states that an action is right if it brings happiness to the greatest number of people. Capital punishment protects society at large and brings satisfaction to victims’ families, so could be argued to be right under this principle.

Some arguments against Capital punishment

· Retribution is uncivilized; two wrongs do not make a right. It is a contradiction to condemn murder and then execute (kill) a murderer.

· Most murders are done on the spur of the moment, so capital punishment would not deter.

· Victims’ families still grieve; killing the murderer does not end the pain of loss.

· Legal systems can fail and innocent people can be executed.

· All life is sacred and murderer should be given the chance to reform.

· It is inhumane and degrading to put anyone through the mental torture of death row.

Amnesty International

Peter Benenson, a British lawyer, founded amnesty International in 1961. It is the world’s biggest human rights Organisation informing the world about human rights abuses and campaigning for individuals and political change. Amnesty disagrees completely with execution, seeing it as cruel, inhumane and degrading campaigning against and monitoring the use of the death penalty worldwide if just one part of Amnesty’s work. The Organisation campaigns to end all human rights abuses and recognizes the inherent value of all human life.

Forgiveness is a process that victims go through where they let go of the offence and the negative ideas of revenge, to move on and let the criminal move on too. It does not mean the victim condones, accepts, excuses or forgets the crime. Whereas society deals with criminals through punishment, victims can deal with it through forgiveness, to forgive is very hard to do and some never can, whereas others fins it within themselves to do so.

10. Forgiveness


Islam states ‘whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah’ (Surah 42:40)


Forgiveness is very important in Christianity, with Jesus saying we should forgive ‘not seven times but seventy times seven’

Although religions clearly teach forgiveness as a very important quality, they also teach justice when the law is broken. So for them, the law deals with the criminal as it has to. It can be described as a process:

Crimes committed criminal caught and punished time served repentance shown (maybe) new start. The crime is not forgotten, but the criminal has the opportunity to move on from that mistake. Some criminals, through their repentance, earn forgiveness allows both parties to move on.

A victim can forgive even though the criminal does not repent and this allows the, as the victim, to move on.

Prayer is often used by Christian to help them forgive’; they do so with the help of God. Most religions believe forgiveness is a quantity of God, to be copied by the believer.

Religion would always urge people to forgive, but never demand it as it is a personal decision. Those who are able to forgive need to be commended and those who cannot forgive need to be helped.

11. Glossary

Land and Order

Are about the rules of our society and how they are enforced. They are based on the ideas of right and wrong.


Is an act, which is very wicked or immoral. Many people associate these kind of acts with an evil being.


A process, which a victim goes through changing feelings of resentment, hate or vengefulness towards an offender in order to move on. It is a central attitude in all religions.


A belief in what is right and fair. It is also the main aim of any criminal system that is to judge, punish the guilty and bring justice to the victim.


A feeling of pain, harm, distress or hardship, which is caused by the actions of others when they commit a crime.


A person’s or a religion’s beliefs of what is right and wrong in terms of behaviour and actions.


The voice in our head that tells us right from wrong.


An act, which goes against God’s will; a religious offence.


Aim of punishment; to keep people safe


Aim of punishment; the punishment exists because the law doe


Aim of punishment’ making up for, compensating.

Capital punishment

Death penalty

Community service order

Punishment; criminal has to do a set number of hours’ work in the community as their punishment

Corporal punishment

Physically hurting the criminal as a punishment


Breaking the law; can be against a person(assault)against property(arson)or the state(terrorism)


Aim of punishment, where the punishment puts someone off committing the crime


Something we are bound to do

Hate Crime

A crime committed because of prejudice, e.g. beating someone up because you think they are gay, in the UK it can mean the doubling of a sentence if found guilty.


Locking someone up as a punishment


The rules which govern a country to keep us safe.


The enforcement of rules e.g. by a police force


Release of a criminal from prison, but continuing to monitor their behaviour

Probation order

Punishment; monitoring of behaviour with the threat of greater punishment for offending again


Aim of punishment; to keep people safe


Aim of punishment; helping the person see how and why they should behave better


Aim of punishment; getting back at the person for what they have done


The one against whom a crime is committed

Young Offender

Persons under 18 who commit crime


The Lord’s Prayer – recognizes that everyone sins and needs forgiveness

A thief, whether man or woman, shall have their hand cut off as penalty.(Qur’an)

If a man is killed unjustly, his family will; be entitled to satisfaction.(Qur’an)

Love your neighbour (Jesus – Mark 12:30 – 31)

Forgive your brother 70 x 7 times (Jesus – Matthew 18:22)

Christian love (agape) should be shown to all people

The woman and man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each one of them(Qur’an)

We ordained for them: life foe life (Qur’an)

Day of judgement – Allah will decide who goes to paradise or hell(Qur’an)

The Ten Commandments – a law code that guides behaviour

Pray for those who persecute you. (Jesus – Sermon on the Mount)

13. Exams techniques

One mark questions

You will have to choose the correct answer from the four offered. This is multiple choice. Just write down the correct answer.

Two mark questions

The two mark questions are asking you to give a brief response

Name two…..

Give two examples of…..

Do not waste time by writing too much, but write enough to answer the question.

Four mark questions

These questions are where you show your understanding of the religion you have studied, and how a person’s beliefs have an influence on their lives. It is clear that when people believe things, their thoughts, words and actions reflect this.

Clearly state how a person is influenced by their beliefs and then explain how this influences/effects a believer.

Five Mark Questions

These questions ask you to explain two beliefs or teachings from religion. You must also refer to the sacred writings in your answer.

Choose your two teachings and then explain each one.

Develop your explanations fully.

Include a relevant teaching from the Bible/Qur’an or any other book that believers see as holy.

Example to 4 mark

Explain two contrasting beliefs in contemporary British Society about the death penalty as a punishment in your answer; you should refer to the main religious tradition of Great Britain and one or more other religious traditions.

In the Bible it says ‘do not kill’. It also says that life is sacred. You should love your neighbour, not hurt them.

This gives us three valid ideas, but does not answer the question. Make sure that you apply the quotes you use to the actual question

In the Bible, it says ‘do not kill’ Sometimes, a criminal has murdered someone, and they have broken this teaching so gone against a fundamental rule of Christianity. It also says that life is sacred. So we should always condemn and punish harshly when someone commits a crime against the person(which is always doing damage to someone). You should love your neighbour, not hurting them, so religious believers would say this kind of crime goes against this teaching by Jesus. All of these teachings show that when a person commits a very serious crime like murder, then the death penalty would be an appropriate punishment.

14. WAWOS – 12 marks question

For GCSE RE you have to demonstrate you can react to a statement. This means that you can consider what the statement says, present arguments to agree and disagree and come to a conclusion of what you think of the statement.

Use WAWOS to answer 12 mark questions:


I think that the statement is saying.............


I agree...

I disagree...

I can see both sides...



Another reason I have...

Some Christians/Muslims might think...

In the Bible/Qur’an it says...

Muhammad (pbuh)/ Jesus said that .....


Some people might say...

Some Muslims / Christians might think...

In the Qur’an / Bible it says...

Jesus / Muhammad (pbuh) said that......

Not everyone agrees because...

S: SUM UP/SO.....

This is the conclusion bit. You must include one.

In summary, I think that...

In conclusion, it is clear that...

At the end of the day my view is ...

Aim for at least two arguments on each side – well explained with evidence and examples.

15. Practice Questions

Crime and Punishment