In the West, the predisposition towards criminals is rehabilitating them. However, an article in the Evening Standard of 14th March, shows the failure in the system. The article refers to a National Audit Office Report which says that re-offending costs between £9.5 and £13 billion per year. In the light of these failings, it is interesting to look at Romans 13:4b. This is what the scripture says: But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
The responsibility of the authorities to criminals is to punish. And a criminal justice system should prioritize punishment. In fact there is a case for arguing from this scripture that the only function of a healthy justice is to punish crime. This thinking seems to have been lost in the West. The focus on punishment has been somewhat diluted by the emphasis upon rehabilitation.
The curious outcome of this is that people are being less and less rehabilitated. The truth is that if the justice system focuses on punishment, then rehabilitation is likely to follow. As so very often when people leave the teachings of the Word of God and fall into the thinking of mere men then we end up with a defective system.