“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” — Mahatma Gandhi. It’s a corrupt practice in any society and not just the western culture.
Regarding your other question about the necessity for a strong disincentive to avoid wrongdoings, I can give you real examples of why such perspective doesn’t work. In Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of which are totalitarian regimes, adultery is punishable by flogging, hanging, and stoning. Stoning a human being to death is, by all means, an extraordinarily violent and slow way of murdering a person. Yet, people still commit adultery in these countries even with these stringent and brutal punishments.