Crime & Punishment

Crime & Punishment


Instructions: Read the following excerpt and, in a separate word document, complete Part I and Part II (found below). Use short quotations from the excerpt to support your answer in Part I. Submit your assignment through eCampus by Friday (3/29) at 11:59PM.


***Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments***

Whereas it frequently happens that wicked and dissolute men resigning themselves to the dominion of inordinate passions, commit violations on the lives, liberties and property of others, and, the secure enjoyment of these having principally induced men to enter into society, government would be defective in it’s principal purpose were it not to restrain such criminal acts, by inflicting due punishments on those who perpetrate them; but it appears at the same time equally deducible from the purposes of society that a member thereof, committing an inferior injury, does not wholy forfiet the protection of his fellow citizens, but, after suffering a punishment in proportion to his offence is entitled to their protection from all greater pain, so that it becomes a duty in the legislature to arrange in a proper scale the crimes which it may be necessary for them to repress, and to adjust thereto a corresponding gradation of punishments.

And whereas the reformation of offenders, tho’ an object worthy the attention of the laws, is not effected at all by capital punishments, which exterminate instead of reforming, and should be the last melancholy resource against those whose existence is become inconsistent with the safety of their fellow citizens, which also weaken the state by cutting off so many who, if reformed, might be restored sound members to society, who, even under a course of correction, might be rendered useful in various labors for the public, and would be living and long continued spectacles to deter others from committing the like offences…




1.) According to Thomas Jefferson, what is the purpose of establishing laws and punishments?


2.) According to Thomas Jefferson, how should a legislature determine the appropriate punishment for a crime?


3.) According to Thomas Jefferson, can reformation be a proper end of legal punishment?


4.) According to Thomas Jefferson, may the death penalty be justly used in society? If so, why?


5.) According to Thomas Jefferson, should a society celebrate the use of the death penalty?


6.) According to Thomas Jefferson, does the use of the death penalty pose any problems for society?




In a short paragraph (4-6 sentences) briefly describe your own understanding about the proper use of punishments in society. In other words, why, when, and how should a society punish those who break the laws. Be sure to specifically mention whether your understanding would allow for the use of the death penalty.

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