Source: (1997) Cambridge Papers. March 1997. The Jubilee Centre.

The moral foundation of punishment is a problematic issue which has prompted several competing views. A biblical perspective is anchored in the principle of retribution: punishment is deserved in proportion to the seriousness of an offence. However, the biblical endorsement of retribution is qualified and carefully nuanced. The fundamental aim is not to inflict suffering on offenders but to reassert the existence of the moral order that governs human life. That moral order emphasises the connections between justice, right relationships and seeking after community well-being. For this reason, punishment should normally aim both at making reparation to victims and at restoring offenders into the community. Taken together these priorities highlight shortcomings in our criminal justice system and suggest directions for reform. (excerpt)