There are many theories to explain why people commit crime, but there is general agreement on how people become criminals. Criminal behaviour fits into one, or more than one, of these categories:
criminal behaviour can be caused by a person's free choice
criminal behaviour can be caused by a person's environment, eg a broken home or failure at school could be a catalyst for the change to becoming a criminal
criminal behaviour can seem like the only option for a person if they are unable to conform to society
criminal behaviour can develop through being associated with other criminals
What are the aims of punishment?
People are punished for a purpose. Often the aims of a punishment overlap, eg the death penalty aims to protect the public from the individual who has committed a specific crime whilst deterring others from committing similar acts. There are six recognised aims of punishment:
deterrence - punishment should put people off committing crime
protection - punishment should protect society from the criminal and the criminal from themselves
reformation - punishment should reform the criminal
retribution - punishment should make the criminal pay for what they have done wrong
reparation - punishment should compensate the victim(s) of a crime
vindication - the punishment makes sure that the law is respected.