What is punishment
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
o Deliberate and intentional.
o The legal process whereby violators of criminal law are condemned
and sanctioned in accordance with specified legal categories and
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
Conscious collective – beliefs and sentiments held by members
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.
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.
Let the punishment fit the crime.
o Free agents.
o Parties to a social contract.
Punishments should be:
o Repetitive-pointless-afflictive labour.
o Little or no pay.
o Poor food.
o Harsh discipline.
o Individual cells.
o Determinate sentences.
o Clean, healthy accommodation.
o Adequate clothing and linen.
o Segregation and classification.
o Health care.
o Religious guidance.
o Productive labour.
All pain must be justified and measured.
Public execution was irrational, disproportionate and non-deterrent,
No crime without law.
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.
o Privately owned.
o Constant supervision. o Isolation of the body.
o Rational response to rational choice.
o Informed prison design.
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.
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.
Normalises the individual into conformity by physical routine and surveillance
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
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
Deterrence (individual and general):
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.