The principle of proportion between crime and Punishment was a principle of
just desert that serves as the foundation of every criminal sentence that is
justiciable. As a principle of criminal justice it is hardly less familiar or
less important than the principle that only the guilty ought to be punished.
Indeed , the requirement that the punishment not to be disproportionately great,
which was a corollary of just desert, is dictated by the Same principle that
does not allow punishment of the innocent,for any punishment in excess of what
is deserved for the criminal conduct is punishment guilt.
The criminal Law adheres to the principle of proportionality in prescribing
liability according to the culpability of each kind of criminal conduct. It
ordinarily allows some significant discretion to the judge in arriving at a
sentence in each case, presumably to permit sentences that reflect more subtle
considerations of culpability that are raised by the special facts of each case.
Judges in essence affirm that punishment ought always to fit the crime. yet in
practice sentences are determined largely by other considerations. Sometimes ,it
is the correctional needs of the perpetrator that are offered to justify a
Sometimes the desirability of keeping him out of circulation, cause a departure
from just desert as the basis of punishment and creates cases of apparent
injustice that are serious and widespread.
Proportion between crime and Punishment is a goal respected in principle, and
inspite of errants notions ,it remains a strong influence in the determination
of sentences. The practice of punishing all serious crimes with equal Severity
is now unknown in civilized societies ,but such a radical departure from the
principle of proportionality has disappeared from the Law only in recent times.
Even now a single grave infraction that was thought to call for uniformly
drastic measures. Anything less than a penalty of greatest severity for any
serious crime was though to be a measure of toleration that was unwarranted and
unwise. But in fact quite apart from those consideration s that make punishment
unjustifiable when it was out of proportion to the crime uniformly
disproportionate punishment has some very undesirable practical consequences.