Punishment Essay

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Punishment has been used to deter criminal behaviour for countless centuries. The pre-modern era brought upon physical punishment towards those who deviated from the law, ranging from strips lashed onto the body to extreme forms such as being burnt on a stake .However in contemporary society, this has significantly shifted to more private methods of punishment focusing on more mental consequences. One such theorist, Michal Foucault discusses this transition through the birth of the prison system (Foucault, 1975). Such notions will be discussed in depth to help support the argument that societies have moved from punishment of the body to punishment of the mind and from the public eye to the private space. Furthermore, historical and contemporary examples will help deliberate and understand how social theories interpret such changes. Incarceration is the most accepted form of punishment in contemporary society. This form of punishment focuses on “eliminating the individual’s opportunity for crime and deviance through different types of physical restraints on their actions “(Niethe, 2005 pg. 18). This punishment is widely accepted as the main form of punishment as it assures the security of victims and crime to cease once behind bar (Meithe, 2005). This punishment derives from the philosophy of incapacitation which is practised in most of today’s penal systems. Incapacitation also focuses on the “utility of punishments for changing offenders” (Miethe, 2005 pg19). This gives the criminal a chance of reflecting and changing in order to decrease the chances of a criminal reoffending when released, which is evident in sanctions such as rehabilitation (Meithe, 2005). Physical punishment in contemporary society is only ever manifest during the process of an execution, such as that of electrocution. This form of punishment began in the late 1800s and was the dominant method

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