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General Education Studies
Asher Flynn

Punishment What is punishment  Broadly: o It is imposed by an authority. o It involves a penalty to the offender. o Involves an individual that is guilty of some action or responsible for events. o Deliberate and intentional.  Garland: o The legal process whereby violators of criminal law are condemned and sanctioned in accordance with specified legal categories and procedures.  Consists of five elements: o Must involve an unpleasantness to the victim. o Must be for an offense, actual or supposed. o Must be of an offender, actual or supposed. o Must involve agency and not be the natural consequence of an action. o Must be imposed by an authority or an institution against whose rules the offense has been committed.  Why we punish: o Punishment is the product of social structure and cultural values. o Often less about philosophical arguments and more on the currents and movements in social thinking and in climates of tolerance and intolerance. o Durkheim:  Conscious collective – beliefs and sentiments held by members of society.  Crimes are those acts, which violate that conscious collective and produce a punitive reaction.  Crime is a necessary part of a healthy society.  Harm leads to an imbalance in society.  Punish individuals to restore society’s balance, promoting social solidarity and affirming values. Historical context  Penalties were arbitrary (random choice or whim). o No definition of what a punishment for a crime should be. o Dependent on the individual at the time.  Dependent on monarchs or the local nobles who delegated authority to punish.  Non-proportionate graduation of penalties. o Capital punishment available for everything from murder and high treason to fairly minor theft.  Brutal spectacle – public displays of corporal and capital punishment.  Severe punishment for minor crimes.  The prison did not exist in its current form: o Prison ship. o Penal colonies. o Debtors prisons.  Punishment reform has taken place over the last 200 years. Beccaria  Let the punishment fit the crime.  Humans are: o Rational. o Free agents. o Parties to a social contract.  Punishments were o Ineffective. o Disproportionate. o Irrational. o Arbitrary. o Unpredictable.  Punishments should be: o Deterrent. o Proportionate. o Prompt. o Predictable.  Prisons were: o Uncomfortable. o Repetitive-pointless-afflictive labour. o Little or no pay. o Poor food. o Harsh discipline. o Individual cells. o Determinate sentences.  Reformers advocated: o Clean, healthy accommodation. o Adequate clothing and linen. o Segregation and classification. o Health care. o Religious guidance. o Productive labour. Jeremy Bentham  Utilitarian.  All pain must be justified and measured.  Public execution was irrational, disproportionate and non-deterrent,  No crime without law.  Deterrence.  Principle of less eligibility: o Argued that if conditions in prisons were not harder than that experience by the lowest of the working classes, then the deterrent effect of the penalty is lost.  Panopticon (prison): o Privately owned. o Profitable. o Constant supervision. o Isolation of the body. o Disciplinary. o Rational response to rational choice. o Informed prison design. The penitentiary  Prison for people convicted of serious crimes.  Established in Pennsylvania 1790: o Solitary confinement. o Silent system. o Hard labour.  Solitary confinement, hard labour and total abstinence would prove the most effective means of reforming criminals. Revisionist approaches  Withdrawal of punishment as spectacle.  Reform not to punish less, but to punish better.  Punishment no longer based on terror but on instruction or example of lesson.  Disciplinary mechanisms in prison produce docile bodies.  Prison discipline a totally rational, totally efficient, totally controlled society.  Discipline is a specific technique of power.  Corrective.  Normalises the individual into conformity by physical routine and surveillance Contemporary punishment  Punishment now carried out by the state.  Punishment has moved from public display.  Punishment is increasingly non-corporal.  Punishment is inherently political.  Prisons are relatively new concepts.  Prison reform is a social concern. Aims of punishment  Retribution: o Just Deserts – e.g. someone murdered someone, so we murder them. o The offender’s behaviour merits a response that demonstrates community outrage proportional to the nature of the offence.  Not just being punished for breaking a moral code, you’re being punished for breaking a law. o Argued to be a necessary consequence of violation of law. o Not concerned with matters outside of the crime punishment relationship.  Deterrence (individual and general): o Individual:  Punishment aims to discourage the offender from engaging in further criminal behaviour.  For example: A short sentence or fine could make an offender reconsider further crimes. o General:
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