Theories of Punishment with Special Focus on Reformative Theory

6 Pages Posted: 6 May 2010 Last revised: 7 Jun 2010

See all articles by Neetij Rai

Neetij Rai

Kathmandu School of Law (KSL)

Date Written: May 5, 2010


As Hobbes said that in the state of nature people were nasty, brutish and their life was short. Locke viewed that the people in the state of nature agreed a social contract in order to establish a formal law. In Rousseau’s view, the social contract was done for the security of property and liberty. Thus from the very beginning of the origin of state, the concept of crime and ways of preventing it or if not, punishing the wrong-doer existed. The punishment system is an integral part of criminal justice and for maintaining social security. The progress of civilization has resulted in the change in the theory, method and motive of punishment.

Punishment can be used as a method of reducing the incidence of criminal behavior either by deterring the potential offenders or by incapacitating and preventing them from repeating the offence of by reforming them into law-abiding citizens. Thus, theories of punishment comprises of policies regarding handling of crime and criminals. They are classified into 4 kinds. All these are not mutually exclusive and each of them plays an important role in dealing with potential offenders.

The theories of punishment are: i) Retributive theory ii) Deterrent theory iii) Preventive theory iv) Reformative theory

The paper also puts some light on reformative theory in Nepalese Penal System.

Keywords: punishment, theories of punishment, reformative theory, deterrent theory, preventive theory, retributive theory

Suggested Citation

Rai, Neetij, Theories of Punishment with Special Focus on Reformative Theory (May 5, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Neetij Rai (Contact Author)

Kathmandu School of Law (KSL) ( email )

Dadhikot-9, Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur, Bhaktapur 6618

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