Making and executing ideal laws with the right penalty is an optimization process with debatable objectives. But at least we can list the five components of the objectives and three components of the costs in an attempt to model lawmaking. Later we can look for the prevailing approaches to combine these goals in ideal lawmaking and determine the origins of these approaches.
Goals of lawmaking
1. Change future behavior of criminals
This is often thought of as the goal of imprisonment. We would like criminals to have limited opportunities to commit another crime while in prison and less likely to commit crimes after they are released, which we attempt to achieve through enrichment programs in prison.
2. Compensate the victims
Victims can be financially compensated through fine or psychologically compensated through apology or by knowing that the criminals will be punished.
3. Deter people from committing crimes
When the punishment is severe enough, it is no longer worth it to commit a crime even when the probability of getting caught is small.
4. Improve the perceived fairness of society
Most people would like to live in a just society where people who harm others without permission are punished.
5. Make the criminals better people
Criminals are people too and many believe that the society should be responsible to help them by pulling them out of the wrong path and teaching them what’s right.