Various schools of thoughts have been suggested to dissect and explain the phenomenon of crime and the effect of punishment on the criminal mind. What leads a person to commit a crime, and even reoffend, despite the specter of punishment hanging over his head like the sword of Damocles? In the hypothetical case of Mickey McHeinous, the question of whether a criminal who has committed the most heinous of crimes and as a consequence suffered unbearable guilt as a consequence of his acts should be punished is being presented for consideration. There is no question that Mickey McHeinous should still be punished for his crimes not only to set a cut-and-dried example to others that crime always begets punishment but primarily because society must be protected from the harm that he might still commit. Guilt, and its physical and physiological consequences, is not enough justification to spare him from punishment because it does not ensure that he will not repeat the commission of the same crime.
The oldest and enduring concept of crime is that it is largely retributive. A criminal is sentenced to punishment that corresponds to the weight of his crime. This is to impress upon the criminal that crime does not pay and his evil deeds against any member of society will not go unpunished. Mickey McHeinous might be physically and psychologically suffering from his crimes but this does not justify sparing him from society’s punishment. Punishment as a retribution is not only a reassertion of the biblical concept of “an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth” but it is also a representation of justice. It is not only Mickey McHeinous that suffers from his crimes, but society as well – more so, in fact because they are the victims. Why should the law favor him by sparing him from punishment and turn a deaf ear on the rest lived by the rules and did no harm