What is the overall goal of the law? Is it to prevent crime in the first place or is it there to punish it after it has already taken place?
If both, then which one takes priority over the other? Which one lead us to our formulation of 'law' in the first place? Was it created with the idea of preventing crime or punishing it?
To me, the overall prevention of crime should take priority over the mere punishing of crimes which have already taken place. We have, regarding law, gone too far in the direction of crime-punishment and not far enough in its prevention. More stern punishment does not prevent crimes, it only deters them.
Simply 'not going to prison' is not enough of an incentive to not commit a crime. In fact, it is not an incentive at all. If I told you feverishly not to do something and you asked me why not, and I told you that everything would stay as it is now if you could refrain from doing that thing you would laugh at me and do it anyway, right? There has to be, in my thinking, more incentive to not commit crimes in the first place.
Personally as a determinist I can't possibly conceive of Law as means of punishment by faulting people who have no fault in being what they are...the whole idea sounds primitive, cheap and demagogic...Law must be interpreted as a mean to prevention or for correction of behavioural fringe habits, a process to optimize human cooperation, a form of cohesion, it very much works like gravity, like a GPS, or a central processor, depending on which metaphor you find more appealing...equally we can think of Moral or Ethics as a fine tune of Law, a set of rules synchronizing behaviour from minimal requirements to excellency, working as an operating system on which the well being of a majority ensures better social cooperation and from there how it affects all other areas of human activity regulating optimal productivity for complex group tasks...Law on the other hand as previously mentioned is at the low end of it establishing objectively the boundaries and limits for acceptable behaviour that when not ensured may affect the collective performance and compromise the whole system cohesion...