Originally Posted by Tommycat
A friend of mine had the best argument for this. He believed that our souls are on this Earth to learn. Once we have learned all of the lessons we may ascend to a higher plane of existence, but if we are cruel and evil in a prior life, we are given the opportunity to experience the opposite in the next life. Or we are placed in the position of experiencing the loss. So a person who rapes and tortures in one life has their soul placed in that of a person who gets raped/tortured in the next. A murderer may have his next life as the family member who faces the sadness of the loss of that loved one.
The whole point of punishment is to prevent it from happening again, to teach the misbehaver a lesson. Assuming that it is the case that we have more than one life, if in the next life people forget everything that happens in their previous life, don't you think it defeats the purpose of punishment? It won't prevent them from doing anything different, because they don't remember what they have done wrong.