Contemporary Rep of Punishment, Essay Example
Punishment may be traced back to the oldest civilizations. Each culture has its norms and practices for dealing with criminals and other undesirables. A complex web of interconnected factors includes both deviant behavior and societal deviation, making solving the problem of punishment extremely difficult. However, the causal link between criminal behavior and its outcomes is notoriously murky, and the varied interpretations of this link tend to evolve. The disciplines of criminology, criminal law, sociology, and penology all conduct research into various ideas and practices surrounding the administration of punishment. Within the framework of a state, which accepts the government as the legitimate representative of the people’s voice and provides it with the ability to punish criminals, a theoretical punishment analysis can be carried out. Within the study of ethics, there is an extensive inquiry into the nature of punishment. Depending on the context of the question, the answer to the crime inquiry could reveal how different people are viewed at different times and places. Therefore, punishments for criminal acts may include incarceration, financial penalties, and even death, which can influence the goals, methods, and outcomes of punishment.
Due to its multidisciplinary nature, criminology provides a unique vantage point from which to explore the many facets of the study of punishment. Punishment can be seen as either a harsh act or a social or cultural truth or institution, depending on the lens through which it is examined. Because of the changing nature of society and culture, we must never cease looking for creative solutions to the challenges of social deviance, both in terms of avoiding and resolving these problems (Chunn & Gavigan, 2014). Deviant behavior is often addressed in terms of deviations in the scholarly literature, and punishment is typically approached from the standpoint of maintaining order. In this particular theoretical approach, culture is seen as an integrated whole consisting of many components, including but not limited to social relations, institutional structures, economic systems, historical legacies, and religious concepts. Various societal contexts affect the justifications for and the actual implementations of punishment in law. It is common knowledge that vengeance is a divisive issue in some societies. Late-modern Western culture tries to demonstrate, as its primary purpose, how the mentality that predominates in these nations is directly related to the amount of severity of the punishment meted out (Pivot Legal Society, 2018). Extremely high incarceration rates are a moral and social problem, the cause of which may lie in societal shifts. Insights supplied by the abolitionist movement were generally regarded as a positive reaction to the prevailing worldview and the accepted standards of the time’s institutional structures. New criminological theories and movements have been developed using the principles of the well-established classical and positivist criminological paradigms.
Within the framework of the classical paradigm, the concept of retribution serves as the justification for applying punishment. Adherents of the consequentialist philosophical school defend the death sentence because it deters criminal activity and protects society. Retributionists believe that transgression should always result in some punishment. All theories about criminal behavior and just punishment are built on free will (Pollack, 2010). The traditional model assumes that the law is universally recognized because it represents the culmination of widespread agreement among citizens. Conversely, the positivist worldview rests on the idea of an autonomous human being. Therefore, punishment serves as a kind of deterrent by utilizing tactics such as restitution and isolation to ensure the public’s safety. The positivist paradigm was the standard in academia until the mid-20th century. It was clear in the 1960s that reintegration-based jail processes were ineffective in the United States and Western Europe in decreasing crime rates. Due to this discovery, the time-honored retribution idea of criminal justice has returned. A new critical school dissected criminological neoclassicism, frequently referred to as a radical school (Pivot Legal Society, 2018). In contrast to the classical school, proponents of critical criminology placed crime and punishment within a more holistic framework encompassing power dynamics. Critical criminology is not a single, all-encompassing field; it is composed of several distinct subfields. The idea that contemporary criminology is a part of the social control apparatus is fundamental to critical criminology.
Critical criminology employs an unorthodox method to attain its goal of studying the dynamics of contemporary society’s systems of control and punishment. Critical criminologists have also raised doubts about punishment’s ability to reduce criminal activity. Several factors affect the extent to which theory is used to inform criminal justice policies and practices. Therefore, criminal theories should be seen as only pointers that may offer suggestions for penal practice, provided that the presented assumptions are accepted. In no other light can penal doctrines be understood. In addition to their core role, theoretical frameworks also serve as standards by which practical activities can be assessed. Politicians must therefore work together to establish a fair and effective punishment system. The topic is timely and important in the context of a discussion about illegal activity and its legal consequences. Among the most significant philosophical arguments about punishment are held in Western European nations, including the Netherlands, Finland, the UK, the US, the Netherlands, and Germany. Many different theoretical and methodological approaches are used to investigate crime. However, the classical and positivist traditions provided the groundwork for contemporary criminology.
Between the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century, the classical school developed interpretations of crime and punishment that largely concentrated on the ideas of the social contract and individual freedom of choice. Positivists argue that criminology exists because of a broken society. These two schools of thought coexisted in 20th-century academic discourse, and their respective resulting notions competed for crime control programs. Classical ideas like proportionality and the perception of punishment as a deterrent continue to play an essential role in modern criminal law. It is only fair that individuals guilty of the same offenses get the same punishments. The classical school of thought argued that people should accept ownership of their actions and the consequences of their decisions based on rational action and free will. Criminals are the state’s property, and punishment is inevitable. Contrary to classical thinkers, positivists held that it was impossible to provide proof for the existence of a free and unfettered individual. Because of this, positivists began to focus less on studying criminal behavior and more on researching the factors that encourage it. The belief that the social realm and the criminal problem could be analyzed as quantitative facts facilitated a more naturalistic investigation approach. Different theoretical frameworks provide unique insights into criminality and offender conduct; hence, their theories of punishment diverge in important ways.
The mere definition of punishment refers to the intentional and willful infliction of pain on another living creature. Torture, isolating prisoners, and imposing various sorts of punishment are all acts that can be defined as harsh and painful. Almost everyone agrees that punishment is the intentional imposition of suffering, but they disagree on whether or not it is moral. Consequently, many arguments can be made for why retaliation is now permissible (Chunn & Gavigan, 2014). The primary purpose of punishment, as outlined by the classical school of criminology principles, is to ensure that the offender is forced to separate from society as retribution for the harm they have caused. Punishment is an inevitable response to social wrongdoing and exists in all societies. Positivists believe the punishment should serve as both a deterrent and a means of correction. If a criminal cannot be rehabilitated to prevent more crimes, their only options are exclusion from society or limited access to criminal opportunities. The underlying philosophical assumptions of the schools above thought are briefly discussed here. The two schools of thought of retributivism and utilitarianism hold beliefs that are opposed to one another on the topic of punishment and its efficacy. When someone exacts revenge on another, they are punished in some way, but when they exact retribution, they are not. By retribution, we mean restoring social order through the impersonal administration of a penalty proportional to the harm produced. The legitimacy of a society’s system of authorized punishment for transgression rests on the concept of a social contract.
Citizens voluntarily adjust their actions to fit within the community’s most stringent set of mandatory laws. Therefore, taking on this level of accountability for rule compliance implies that rule-breaking will have consequences. Proof that collective needs trump individual rights and that sanctions are grounded in the social contract (Pollack, 2010). People are willing to give up some of their liberties and rights in exchange for the greater good of society. Although the concept of a social contract may look simple at first, it raises quite a few challenges when put into practice. Whether or not regulations truly reflect the interests of society as a whole or whether or not all community members favor compliance are grounds for questioning the legitimacy of the expectation of conformity with communal standards. Realizing a community’s diversity may lead one to conclude that some members are compelled to obey laws they did not voluntarily agree to embrace. Whether or whether they consider themselves to be a member of that group, people face severe punishment for actions that go against what is best for society. If challenging the social contract is avoided, retribution is possible. Another important tenet of the retributionist ideology is that offenders should be treated no differently than the rest of society. The perpetrator has the same rights and responsibilities as every other citizen, including the right to face punishment for their actions. Assuming a retributionist perspective means treating the perpetrator as if they were an ordinary, rational human being with free will.
When someone commits a crime, they do so despite knowing the repercussions that could be levied against them. Legal equality might be contested because it encourages unfair treatment of some groups of people. However, the fact that adopting this ‘wrong’ could prevent further wrongs from occurring makes it acceptable. The offender may be publicly or privately humiliated, sent to rehabilitation, or be discouraged from further criminal behavior due to the punishment. Any strategy can be adopted as long as the end justifies the means. Utilitarianism is also grounded on the concept of a social contract, but it places more weight on different factors. Punishing criminals is a fundamental human right because society has a legitimate interest in keeping the public safe from those who choose to violate it. Social security, based on universal prevention, finally justifies punishment. The retributionist worldview takes a retrospective approach to events and holds that criminal behavior and attendant punishment inevitably result from disobeying the law. On the other hand, utilitarianism is a prospective worldview; from a practical perspective, punishment should deter further wrongdoing. However, according to the punishment paradigm, offenders should be punished following the seriousness of the harm they caused to society.
Contrast this with the revenge paradigm, which emphasizes payback for wrongdoing. However, punishments for misbehavior may be more severe than rewards for good behavior. Punishment is necessary to restore social equilibrium. Punishment can be used to minimize unnecessary suffering in the best of situations. Punishment practices have historical roots in societies where creditors had the legal right to take from debtors whatever reflected the debtor’s power and might be used as a deposit or pawn by another human being with a higher level of authority (Pollack, 2010). These customs originated when creditors had the legal right to take possession of any assets representing the debtor’s power. The criminal is seen as just a debtor who must accept responsibility for their conduct and fulfill the duty of repair because it is their human responsibility to do so. The offender must additionally pay for the costs of any necessary repairs. Individuals should be held responsible for their financial obligations rather than punished for wrongdoing. In this case, it may be more effective to treat the person in issue as a debtor rather than a criminal and to associate their behavior with the concept of debt rather than a crime. Problems arise with this theoretical concept because people in disadvantaged positions may see society as a whole as unjust and in a position of indebtedness. It is a potential issue since it could lead people to see the world as a debtor. To borrow money is not merely an indication of the debtor’s own free choice but also the debtor’s unique financial situation at the moment of borrowing. Equally contentious is the creditor’s presumed entitlement to hurt the debtor. Following this reasoning would allow authoritative secular parties to stand in for religious authorities in our analysis and apply sanctions as if they were lawfully entitled to do so. A Christian’s view is that everyone should be presumed innocent unless proven guilty, at which point the accused should be hauled before a judge and subject to harsh punishments, including torture.
The crime was viewed as a hard, cold fact that had to be addressed rationally within the old positivist framework. Criminologists in the 1960s who took a more critical stance developed the hypothesis that social control, rather than individual departure, is the root cause of crime and disorder. Until the rest of the population acknowledges their authority, a sovereign or group of experts must take charge. When the reliability of a power structure is questioned, it deteriorates. As a result, previously legitimate authority can now be used unconstitutionally and inconsistently. Throughout human history, many factors have interacted to mold the institution of punishment into what it is today. Public opinion and the criminal law framework view punishment as deterring criminal behavior and separating offenders from society. Punishment symbolizes and enacts moral judgments; thus, it affirms and strengthens the moral order on which it is based. When these norms are disregarded, the entire population often feels moral anger and a desire for vengeance. What makes criminal action criminal is not the fact that it upsets the public’s emotions but rather the fact that it disturbs the public conscience. Melodrama is used to expose the harshness of the closed penal system to shock and frighten the audience. Concerns like these have the potential to reawaken public support for finally abolishing the inhumane practice of chain gang punishment. Classic prison movies employ melodrama to demonstrate that the possibility for barbarism lurks below the institutional veneer of all penalties depicted in the film, whether modern or premodern. In addition, these movies provide the impression that anyone who interacts with the system’s flaws always becomes corrupt.
All modern societies rely on some form of criminal punishment to maintain social order. However, the extent to which this is true varies greatly from one culture to the next, and the reasons for this are complex. Both industrialized and developing countries have used economic, hindering, and physical sanctions to maintain social order, regulate domestic and international relations, and eliminate any challenges to the status quo. One of the most intriguing issues to explore from a global perspective is whether or not such traditions are universally relevant. Incarceration as a punishment is common in many countries criminal justice systems. Most legal systems’ ultimate punishment is execution. As a whole, incarceration rates have increased considerably after World War II, while some regions have seen this trend accelerate at a faster rate than others. Incapacitation, deterrent, reform, rehabilitation, and the idea that a jail term is a justly justified and adequate answer to crime are all things that proponents of incarceration say can be justified by the sanction of incarceration. Proponents of incarceration also argue that a jail sentence is a justly merited and fair result of significant criminal behavior. Rehabilitation and reintegration into society are important detention goals under international law. Although people disagree about how much each component should weigh and prisons’ function, international law still recognizes these two components. This form of carceral discipline was no longer limited to the public sphere but had also found its way into homes. According to one author, it was even more restricted than the corporal punishment of the previous dictatorship since it used the body as a tool to discipline the soul and shape the intellect.
Due to the bad associations that many people in these countries have with jails, reform efforts have been slow to be implemented. These alterations were seen as symbols of colonial control. Because of the challenges inherent in reformulating existing punishment systems, many countries have struggled to adopt humane forms of punishment. Unlike their European counterparts, African jails were not intended to replace physical punishment but to reinforce white power. The story of prison reform in colonial Asia is important because it focuses on an institution that was basically alien and was a place of both caste discrimination and intentional attempts to impose Christianity in addition to being a site of colonial tyranny. The majority of the population in Latin America has been kept out of the exercise of democratic rights and citizenship for decades, despite the language of modernity and technology. Hence prison reform has been regarded as vital to state and nation creation. To emphasize, anticolonialists and political prisoners frequently retaliated violently against colonial governments. By publishing memoirs, contributing to newspapers, planning riots, and engaging in resistance, these prisoners ensured that the horrifying circumstances in colonial jails became a global issue. However, the world’s prisons still feel the effects of colonialism’s long and pervasive legacy today. Prison reform groups of the 20th century worked to make correctional institutions safer and more humane by focusing on inmates’ legal protections.
The National Prison Project was designed to ensure that prisoners continue to enjoy their rights as free people, notwithstanding their detention. Since the 1970s, the initiative has launched several class actions to petition the U.S. government on various issues. The prevention of sexual assaults on prisoners is one such concern, as is the amelioration of overcrowding and deplorable living conditions behind bars, the care of prisoners with life-threatening illnesses like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and cancer, and the improvement of medical care for all prisoners. Judicial intervention and independent monitoring have successfully improved inmates’ human rights in several jurisdictions. India’s human rights law has been developing since the 1970s, mostly due to several seminal rulings, most notably in jail administration and inmate rights. The Supreme Court of India addressed several major issues within the Indian legal system in a landmark decision from 1996. Prison vices, lack of communication, streamlined visits, and administration of open-air prisons were all mentioned as issues that needed to be addressed. Many different groups at the national and international levels have worked hard over the past few decades to raise jail standards and make them universal (Pivot Legal Society, 2018). These groups often worked closely with the appropriate government agencies and local prison officials. Some of these strategies are how the plans reach their objective. Overcrowding, inadequate housing, poor sanitation, and the spread of communicable diseases like tuberculosis must be addressed head-on, including challenging the underlying legal and procedural factors that contribute to these problems.
Life in jail, fines, and the death sentence are just some ways that criminals might be dealt with, each of which can have a bearing on the intended consequences of punishment and how they are administered. Local, national, or international concerns may unite NGOs. Supporters of humane prison policies believe everyone should be accorded basic human decency and compassion regardless of their past. That is to say, everyone has the right to a safe and pleasant environment, in addition to the necessities of existence such as food, water, shelter, hygiene, clean air, clothing, bedding, and the opportunity to engage in physical exercise. As a result, a growing number of people perceive jail as a penalty so severe that it should be considered in isolation, without any restrictions on civil liberties or other penalties. No danger of serious illness or even death should exist owing to the physical conditions or the lack of competent treatment, nor should there be any risk of physical or psychological assault by staff members or inmates. For instance, people are imprisoned not as punishment but as punishment. Formerly, it was argued that rehabilitating inmates into society should be the top priority for prisons. Ex-offenders need to be ready for life in society upon release to lessen the likelihood of returning to prison and increase public safety. Although there have been improvements in international agreements in recent years, these deals are still struggling today. There are many reasons why the human rights argument for prison reform is not as strong as it could be, including out-of-date laws, a lack of societal pressure, tough sentencing policies, and political support. In addition, there are insufficient resources and weak oversight mechanisms in place. The US and the UK are also impacted by this worldwide problem. Whether or not jail is an efficient, just, and compassionate form of punishment is a topic on which people all around the world have strong opinions.
Chunn, D. E., & Gavigan, S. A. (2014). Welfare fraud to welfare as fraud: The criminalisation of poverty. In Gillian Balfour and Elizabeth Comack (eds.). Criminalising Women: Gender and (in)Justice in Neo-Liberal Times, Black Point, Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 13(2), 197-214.
Pivot Legal Society. (2018, October 9). Testifying against harmful laws before the House of Commons standing committee on justice and human rights. https://www.pivotlegal.org/testifying_against_harmful_laws_before_the_house_of_commons_committee_on_justice_and_human_rights
Pollack, S. (2010). Labelling clients ‘Risky’: Social work and the Neo-liberal welfare state. British Journal of Social Work, 40(4), 1263-1278. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcn079
Time is precious
don’t waste it!