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BS: The concept of 'punishment'

MGM·Lion 22 Jan 11 - 01:06 AM
Ebbie 22 Jan 11 - 03:43 AM
freda underhill 22 Jan 11 - 04:22 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 22 Jan 11 - 04:57 AM
Silas 22 Jan 11 - 04:58 AM
Richie Black (misused acct, bad email) 22 Jan 11 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,Eliza 22 Jan 11 - 05:48 AM
Silas 22 Jan 11 - 05:52 AM
Dave MacKenzie 22 Jan 11 - 06:01 AM
Allan C. 22 Jan 11 - 06:05 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Jan 11 - 06:20 AM
Dave MacKenzie 22 Jan 11 - 06:29 AM
GUEST,Eliza 22 Jan 11 - 06:48 AM
InOBU 22 Jan 11 - 09:01 AM
Dave MacKenzie 22 Jan 11 - 09:45 AM
pdq 22 Jan 11 - 10:58 AM
InOBU 22 Jan 11 - 11:33 AM
number 6 22 Jan 11 - 11:42 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 22 Jan 11 - 11:53 AM
pdq 22 Jan 11 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,Eliza 22 Jan 11 - 12:18 PM
MGM·Lion 22 Jan 11 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,Eliza 22 Jan 11 - 12:46 PM
MGM·Lion 22 Jan 11 - 01:15 PM
Bill D 22 Jan 11 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,Eliza 22 Jan 11 - 03:07 PM
gnu 22 Jan 11 - 03:35 PM
Little Hawk 22 Jan 11 - 03:42 PM
Allan C. 22 Jan 11 - 04:21 PM
GUEST 22 Jan 11 - 04:21 PM
Uncle_DaveO 22 Jan 11 - 04:57 PM
Smokey. 22 Jan 11 - 05:12 PM
Tangledwood 22 Jan 11 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Silas 22 Jan 11 - 05:31 PM
Little Hawk 22 Jan 11 - 06:53 PM
Janie 22 Jan 11 - 09:38 PM
Little Hawk 22 Jan 11 - 09:51 PM
Dorothy Parshall 22 Jan 11 - 10:41 PM
Janie 22 Jan 11 - 11:44 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Jan 11 - 03:46 AM
Joe Offer 23 Jan 11 - 04:15 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 23 Jan 11 - 04:37 AM
MGM·Lion 23 Jan 11 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 23 Jan 11 - 05:10 AM
Silas 23 Jan 11 - 05:56 AM
mayomick 23 Jan 11 - 06:14 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jan 11 - 06:42 AM
mayomick 23 Jan 11 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,Eliza 23 Jan 11 - 07:40 AM
MGM·Lion 23 Jan 11 - 07:42 AM
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Subject: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 01:06 AM

On another current thread, on Votes For Prisoners?, I wrote in response to another poster~~~

"...the extent to which punishments should be enforced is an intransigent problem.

The trouble is, indeed, the whole concept of "punishment" itself. The idea that, because someone has departed from Society's norms and expectations, they should be forced in return to undergo an experience they would rather not have undergone (whatever form it might take, from loss of money to loss of liberty" [and even, I might have added here, loss of life itself!] "to the pain of a birch across the bottom or a hot iron on the hand), is clearly illogical, irrational, and altogether absurd, even though it might give some satisfaction to their victims to contemplate their having suffered in their turn.

Unfortunately, no society seems ever to have come up with a better idea..."

This seems to me to hold good all the way from capital punishment to school detentions.

Any comments? Or possible alternatives? Or better ideas?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 03:43 AM

You can't get more basic punishment than 'going without supper'. I've never understood the relevance of that concept.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: freda underhill
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 04:22 AM

All the research shows that punishment does zilch to reform anyone. Apart from psychos who will never change, 90% of people in prison would benefit from training, literacy and numercy assistance and support in developing better social and communication skills.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 04:57 AM

' 90% of people in prison would benefit from training, literacy and numercy assistance and support in developing better social and communication skills.'

yeh 90% of the people out of prison too


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Silas
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 04:58 AM

Oh I don't know. Renmoving the tesicles of rapists would help, hanging child molesters would stop them doing it again. REmoving the digits from theives hands would have some deterrent effect I would think.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Richie Black (misused acct, bad email)
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 05:16 AM

Lock them in a room with nothing to read but the Guardian. Play this Youtube video to them. They will confess to anything and never re offend.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWeFPWa9z38


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 05:48 AM

This is an issue I have wrestled with for many years. Recently, after the completion of the initial Human Genome research, it has become known that individuals can be genetically disposed to various antisocial disorders, violent temperament, addictive behaviours,and so on. Also, it has long been known that the early experiences of a person can warp and twist their personalities to such an extent that they become criminal and even dangerous. (I have seen the latter as a teacher) If, to put it simplistically, one is 'born bad' or 'rendered bad', can punishment be either fair or effective? I have often suspected that the concept of punishment arises from a primitive desire for vengeance on the part of the victim. Hacking off hands, castrating, branding etc. are barbaric and vengeful acts, and I hope we have moved on from this. But I care deeply about the victims, and obviously the perpetrators of crime should be separated from us for our own protection. Further than this, I have never managed to get, even after (as I said in another thread) getting to know and visiting many prisoners in prison. All I can say (as I said there) is that it's MUCH more complicated than people generally think, and the solutions are not easy to find.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Silas
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 05:52 AM

Well, forgive me, but I care little for the feelings or histories of the criminal. I am more concerned about the victim.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 06:01 AM

There seem to be quite a few cases where there is an apparently endless cycle of victims becoming the next generation of perpetrators.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Allan C.
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 06:05 AM

When we were far less amalgamated and much more tribal, punishment for crimes against society often consisted of shunning or banishment. Because life was what it was back then, either punishment was rather severe. Being shunned meant having virtually no interaction with one's fellows and most certainly excluded one from voting on any societal changes. Banishment in some cases was tantamount to a death sentence. In many ways I wish these forms of punishment still were viable. However, since they aren't useful tools anymore, prison seems the only logical way to exclude someone from the society they have offended.

That said, it seems to me that the goal of imprisonment should be two-fold: to separate an offender from society and to teach the offender the skills necessary to rejoin society as a useful member. Sadly, the current penal system appears to concentrate, for the most part, only on the separation. Most of the rehabilitation I saw when I was working for the Virginia Department of Corrections was initiated by the individual inmates, themselves.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 06:20 AM

It is necessary that people are protected from the thugs of our society - such as Lord Denning, famous for saying:
"It is better that some innocent men remain in jail than the integrity of the English judicial system be impugned".
Come up with an infallible system for exposing criminals, then you might eventually reach a fair way of punishing them.
We should be thankful that capital punishment is now as much a thing of the past as the thumbscrew and the rack, and as likely to be re-introduced.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 06:29 AM

I was talking to my son who's a Prison Governor last year, and I mentioned how custodial sentences had bee introduced on an experimental basis when the UK began to move away from universal capital punishment, and his comment was that they still are.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 06:48 AM

Dave, Your son must have an infinite knowledge and experience of the prison system in the UK. I wonder if he has any ideas for the rehabilitation of offenders, or what might be done to reduce recidivism, (apart from keeping them there indefinitely!) I have the greatest respect and admiration for Prison Staff, having met dozens over the years. They know what makes these people tick more than any of us.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: InOBU
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 09:01 AM

I've worked in American Origional Nations, commonly refered to as "Indian" nations, some of whom have no concept of punnishment. Rather when there is a breach of social expectations there is an examination of the relationship is caused or broke. If the breach is unfixable, then there is a split into a new band.
Frankly... I think it works much better than punishment.
For Silas... often the person punished is the victem. I immidiatly think of Willy Francis, exicuted in Florida, survived as the electric chair burned him but shorted out... he was then, a year latter exicuted and died, and latter found to be innocent.
In the US, the standard of advocacy, even in capitol cases, envolving marginalized communities is pitiful.
All the very best
Lorcan


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 09:45 AM

Hi Eliza. As far I can gather, it's all part of the job.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: pdq
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 10:58 AM

It is not realistic to compare "crime and punishment" on a tiny Indian reservation with the same concept in a large U.S. city.

I was on a Pomo Indian reservation near Clear Lake one time. There were 200 total people living on about 400 acres of California's dry foothills. Everyone on the property either knew each other or had met. They had family elders and tribal elders who can work on problems when they arise.

Contrast that with the Los Angeles County jail system which books 175,000 people every year and has about 22,000 incarcerated each night. There is not enough space to house them all let alone treat their individual emotional problems. Detainees are lucky to get out of jail without being knifed or killed.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: InOBU
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 11:33 AM

Well, PDQ:... the numbers in your example say alot about crime in the US... it is not simply a numbers game. If you have not, you might read the book, "The Fatal Shore" about the history of the development of the death camps in Australia, how they evolved from prison camps to death camps, and then disapeared with the injection of opportunity. We have a prison population completely out of line with the number of people in this nation. No human population has ever jail this percent of its people - we must be doing something wrong... let's start with that.
If criminality were tied to crime, then it would be a constant ratio perportionate to the population. Crime is a breakdown on the part of the entire system, not just those at the bottom who pay the price.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: number 6
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 11:42 AM

"Crime is a breakdown on the part of the entire system"

Exactly InOBU ... I fully agree with this.


biLL


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 11:53 AM

Are you sure you've got that statistic right - one town alone locks up 22 thousand people? That is mind boggling. I wonder how many people in the town are employed doing the locking up.

Thats like a fair sized town on its own. I take it, there is some good reason for locking all these people up. there CAN'T be that many criminals.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: pdq
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 12:06 PM

No, not one town. The Los Angeles County Jail system is a county system. Los Angeles, the city, is not likely to get much larger in population because it is completely developed now. I think it has about 4 million. You can look it up if you want.

The Los Angeles greater metropolitan area, however, covers about four counties and is one of the largest in the world, approaching 20 million people. I have said before that population is at the root of most of our social problems. Low density living, low crime.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 12:18 PM

From my (admittedly quite limited) observations and experiences, drugs seem to be at the root of a large proportion of crime, at least in the UK. A whole underworld economy is based on addiction. Theft, robbery,smuggling, money laundering etc are all linked to the drug trade. I have read that most of the prostitutes here are heroin addicts, as are their pimps and partners. Before this drug era, (eg in the fifties) crime was a simpler problem. If one could discover just what drives young people to take drugs, and do something about it, society would be a much safer place. Probably there is something missing in their lives which drug-induced states alleviate temporarily. Addicts I spoke to in prison told me this, they welcomed drugs as an escape from the unbearable reality of their lives. Why are our children so ill inside? And what can we do to prevent this?


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 12:27 PM

I should say we should decriminalise drugs: it wasa proved in 1920-30s USA that Prohibition [in that case alcohol, but the principle will hold true, surely, with drugs likewise] creates more problems than it solves, leading to gang warfare, and also theft to maintain the addiction.

-M-


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 12:46 PM

I have often wondered about this. It would certainly pull the rug out from under the dealers and smugglers. But if their lucrative businesses dried up, would they not turn to other forms of crime?   An experiment in Holland issued heroin to addicts daily at a special centre, and they could hold down a job and function in society. Meanwhile, their intake was monitored and slowly reduced. Also, the drug administered was not dangerously adulterated, and the needles were sterile. But none of this explains why someone takes drugs in the first place. Or even goes back on to eg heroin after having been clean for a few months. That has always puzzled me.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 01:15 PM

Might be worth mentioning that in my long-ago teaching days I would often say to a new class, "I don't believe in punishment", & they would look pleased ~~ until I added, "You start!".

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 01:19 PM

I am of the opinion that 'punishment' is often several concepts linguistically bound together. It can be for the benefit of the punisher...that is, 'revenge',or it can be for the benefit of society, that is, 'a learning process in which it is hoped the transgressor will decide not to 'transgress' again.....or, it can be for the benefit of the transgressor, that is, 'an unpleasant enlightenment about which behaviors are to be preferred and which avoided, leading to a better life'....and it can of course, also be simply way of ensuring the transgression cannot be repeated....death, castration...etc.

It is not always easy to determine in a specific case which is being employed, as motivation is not always clear...even when stated.."This is gonna hurt me more than it does you!"

Simple punishments can often be effective for simple transgressions.."3 little kittens have lost their mittens, so they shall have no pie!"...so they are more careful with mittens in the future, because they LIKE pie.
But obviously, both the motivation for and application of, many punishments are highly suspect, and until we are better able to sort out what we actually intend to accomplish, it will continue being a source of dispute.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 03:07 PM

Completely agree, Bill D, you expressed it very clearly. We aren't sure yet of our aims and objectives with regard to punishment, and maybe in the future we'll be enlightened.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: gnu
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 03:35 PM

InOBU... I agree with you and sIx. It takes a village to create a criminal.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 03:42 PM

Hmm. No, I'm not in favour of punishment. Punishment is just emotional reactivity in people....like hitting someone because something they just did upset you. It's a weakness. I don't see that it helps anyone.

However...I am definitely in favour of there being consequences for wrongful actions. That is, actions result in consequences, and among those are the legal consequences. Legal consequences are always a deterrent to antisocial behaviour.

So why does the average morally somewhat fallible person not commit a variety of legal violations on certain occasions, just because it might momentarily appeal to some passing desire he has? Because there are consequences! ;-) Therefore we do need laws that ensure that there will be such consequences, don't we?

The law should not be practiced in a spirit of anger or vengeance, it should be practiced to keep the peace and maintain a healthy society.

This will entail charging people who have violated the law, arresting them (if necessary), even shooting them while on duty (if absolutely necessary), and imprisoning them (in some cases, depending on the severity of the crime). You might call that "punishment", but I don't call it punishment, I call it coping with the situation in a practical manner.

And each case must be dealt with intelligently, dispassionately, according to its own unique nature...but I wouldn't recommend doing it in a spirit of vengeance, I'd recommend doing it in such a way as ensures public safety and avoids sadistic treatment of prisoners at the same time.

Like I said, each case is unique. No one here is going to come up with a simple recipe that answers all situations.

As for capital punishment, I see no usefullness in that at all once someone has been prevented (through imprisonment) from being a menace to society. It's just murder under another name to execute a prisoner. Yes, the state can murder, and it does so when it goes to war (in a war of its own choice) and when it commits capital punishment. If it isn't absolutely necessary to kill another human being in order to prevent that human being from killing other innocent people....then I'd say, don't do it. Not upon any excuse. Not for any reason. And not as punishment for any crime. I'd also say don't torture people.

Those directly affected will almost always cry out for vengeance, because that's normal human nature, but they should not be the ones making the legal decisions. If they are, then it's nothing but a lynch mob.

Hollywood, by the way, loves the lynch mob mentality. ;-) It makes for great drama and it sells lots of tickets. I even enjoy watching some of those movies myself at times, just for entertainment, but I see it as an exaggerated fantasy. Real life is much more complex than the stuff Hollywood presents us with in action movies....where the villains are usually such gross stereotypes of "evil" that the audience can't possibly identify with them in any way. Real life is very seldom like that.

One movie that provides some very interesting food for thought about a serial killer is "Monster"...a brilliant film, very disturbing to watch, leaves you feeling drained, desperately sad, and without hope at the end, but it has the courage to go way beyond what the standard Hollywood action movies would ever have the nerve to take on. It deals with real, complex, tragic personalities in intolerable circumstances that they just don't know how to deal with...not one-dimensional stereotypes of good and evil.

It raises a lot of questions that should be raised, and there are no easy answers to those questions...nor will capital punishment ever redress such problems effectively.

One final thought, though. If a prisoner actually wanted to be given the death penalty as a means of atonement for something they had done.....then I would consider honoring that request. The way I see it, your life is your own. No one else has the right to take it. But if you wish to give it up for some ideal that is meaningful to you....then that's your right.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Allan C.
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 04:21 PM

I've noticed a couple of mentions of castration which, in one instance, appeared to be linked to punishment for rape. I can hardly believe that anyone still doesn't recognize that in most cases rape has very little to do with sex. Castration would not, in my opinion, change very much about the mind of a rapist.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 04:21 PM

'. If a prisoner actually wanted to be given the death penalty as a means of atonement for something they had done.....then I would consider honoring that request. The way I see it, your life is your own. No one else has the right to take it. But if you wish to give it up for some ideal that is meaningful to you....then that's your right.'

I don't like that idea. I don't like the idea that some idiot decides whether we're going to commit murder or not.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 04:57 PM

Allan C. mentioned

When we were far less amalgamated and much more tribal, punishment for crimes against society often consisted of shunning or banishment. Because life was what it was back then, either punishment was rather severe.

Shunning or banishment may well have been effective in a primitive or rural society, largely because an "outlawed" individual was not only removed from "the people" and thus no longer a threat to them, but also, a banished individual in the wild would have real problems surviving without the support of the tribe or village. The shunning, if effectively done, might well be in effect a death sentence.

Today, let's say in Chicago or London, what is the possibility of ensuring that shunning takes place? Who could bring it about? Who could even communicate to enough of the population the judgment that Charlie Jones is to be shunned, that the shunning will take place?

Today Charlie Jones, if that's his name, could pretty easily go elsewhere and replace "the tribe" with another tribe.

-------
And, if crime is not to be punished in SOME manner, what is the society to do? Just grin and bear the egregious behavior of a criminal? Penal and legal experts are overwhelmingly convinced, these days, that there is no such thing as rehabilitation or reform or penitence-building taking place in the reformatories or penitentiaries, despite the high-sounding ideals that used to be advanced in the old days, as reflected in the names that were given to those institutions.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Smokey.
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 05:12 PM

Despite the rightness or wrongness of the 'rules', or the appropriateness of the actual punishments, the concept of punishment is primarily intended as a deterrent. As we are only aware of when that deterrent fails, it is not possible to ascertain exactly how effective it is, except in a personal sense.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Tangledwood
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 05:22 PM

Isn't the concept of punishment aimed more at prevention of the crime in the first place rather than what happens afterwards? "you touch my car, I'll smash your face in."

Some will never understand the idea of cause and effect so will still offend. Some others will weigh up the odds of getting caught and the severity of the subsequent punishment against the immediate gratification of the act. These people will continue to offend if they perceive that there are few police patrols and, if caught, they'll just get a wrap over the knuckles.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 05:31 PM

"I've noticed a couple of mentions of castration which, in one instance, appeared to be linked to punishment for rape. I can hardly believe that anyone still doesn't recognize that in most cases rape has very little to do with sex. Castration would not, in my opinion, change very much about the mind of a rapist."

Utter tosh!


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 06:53 PM

Everyone understands cause and effect, Tangledwood...it is a cinch to understand it. Even small children understand it.    But....there are just a lot of people out there who think they can avoid it somehow by their own cleverness or good luck....or who are simply unable to control their momentary impulses (in the case of crimes of passion or crimes of opportunity).

A wrap over the knuckles would be handy on a cold day, but I think it was a "rap" that you were referring to. ;-)

Much of our present difficulty in controlling crime arises from our loss of traditional community. In a heavily urbanized society where people can easily travel great distances the increasing anonymity of people has rendered concepts like "shunning" null and void. What worked very well in tribal communities and isolated small towns of the past can no longer work, because people in a modern community don't know even most of the other community members.

Silas - I think what the other poster was referring to was that the act of rape often has less to do with sex than it does to do with exerting power. It obviously has something to do with sex, but it may have more to do with exerting power and control in the case of most rapists. After all, we all have powerful sexual desires...but how many of us have the sort of dark emotional issues that would cause us to resort to raping someone? Not too many. It's an act of hatred and anger. Rapes go up tremendously in wartime, and that is encouraged by the macho competition among soldiers to prove themselves to their comrades...which involves being cruel to "the enemy"...and to punish "the enemy". The most vulnerable "enemy" targets in this case are the unarmed civilians, specially the women. I don't call that a sexual issue. I call it a power issue.

By the way, many castrated eunuchs in ancient Rome and Egypt managed to have quite a bit of sex with women in the households they were in...apparently their sexual desires remained strong. Also, castrating a rapist doesn't do a thing to reduce that person's desire to "get back" at other people, it would increase it...and perhaps they would resort to doing worse things than raping people. All this business about castrating rapists is, is it's a sick revenge fantasy that someone is having about "getting even" with rapists. He likes the thought of it, just like the rapist likes the thought of terrorizing and dominating his victims.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Janie
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 09:38 PM

Thinking of the posts made by LH and Bill D -

I agree that punishment and consequences are closely intertwined, but separate concepts. In application, however, they often are not separate at all.

Punishment involves value judgement. It is about another person or a society deciding some one deserves to suffer for what they have done.

Consequence is value neutral. Consequences may be positive or negative, intentional or unintentional.

When one knows that the consequence of getting caught breaking a law is punishment, then punishment is also a negative consequence.

At the societal level, imposed punishment, consequences, or both for serious crimes are also intended as social deterrents

Loss of freedom is a consequence. The conditions of life in an institution where one is placed to experience that consequence vary, depending on on many factors. When those conditions are dangerous and brutal, they may be punishment as well as consequence, though this is not inherently so., and perhaps not fully consciously intended by a particular society.   

In the USA, changes in the penal code, the ability to hold employers legally liable in civil court for monetary damages for the actions of employees, and technologies and data bases that make it very easy and inexpensive to do criminal background checks on prospective employees have resulted in the consequences of going astray being so long term and so difficult to overcome once out of prison or off of probation for a youthful felony offense, that the end result is both punishment and consequence beyond what our society actually intended, and which operates to the detriment of our society.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 09:51 PM

Right, Janie. The idea of punishment is based on value judgement, while the idea of consequences is value neutral. Courts are not here to judge how "good" or "evil" someone is (nor can they make such a judgement), they are here to enforce the law in an unbaised fashion, with the purpose of maintaining a peaceful and harmonious society.

No human being is really equipped to decide how "good" or how "evil" someone else is...but they ARE equipped to decide whether someone else has violated commonly agreed-upon laws and rules of behaviour, and how to enforce existing laws. That's what we need to focus on. We can write novels about "good" and "evil", but we can't run a legal system based on those kind of value judgements.

I think that loss of freedom is usually the most devastating consequence of violating the law. Anyone who has lost his or her freedom feels the loss keenly in every waking moment, and that is the biggest deterrent to lawbreakers...the loss of their freedom.

Penal institutions should not be set up in a way that increases the chances of a first-time offender coming out worse than he was when he went in, but I think that's what is presently happening in a lot of our penal institutions. If so, it's a very big mistake.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 10:41 PM

Everybody knows that our prisons are, generally, training schools to make better criminals. There is far too little offered that might help the released prisoner find a job, a better life. In most cases of young, first time offenders, victim/offender mediation/reconciliation would do a great deal more toward a better, and far less expensive, way of resolving the concept of punishment. In most instances the offender helps the victim in some way and the mediation process gives them a better understanding of how their crime impacted on the life of the victim. This has been found very effective in those areas which have used it.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Janie
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 11:44 PM

We are so complex as individuals and as societies. There are no easy answers, much less "right" answers. There are places that logic and reason could lead us, but that is not likely to happen in the near future.

I


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 03:46 AM

Little Hawk;
I find most of your contributions here straightforward common sense with the exception of "commonly agreed-upon laws".
Laws are made by a priveleged few on our behalf and they stay on the statute book until they are removed, again, on our behalf.
We have no say whatever in their making or repealing, apart from by referendum (far more common in Ireland than in the UK) - or have I missed something?
Not that I am advocating democratic lawmaking; most people I know would happily take their cue from the scabloids and revert to the neanderthal practice of capital punishment, given the choice (evidence enough of that here) - god save us all from returning to those dark days.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 04:15 AM

This isn't a question that has easy answers. I'm glad to see posts here that show so much insight.

I have to disagree with Jim Carroll and side with Little Hawk. Sure, there are some laws in western society that are oppressive, but most criminal laws are based on common sense. Whether they are made by the "privileged few" or not, doens't make a lot of difference as long as they're lawss that people generally agree with. I don't agree with the current push for ever-increasing penalties for crime - but generally I agree with what the law defines as criminal. If you kill or rape or rob, you ought to be punished.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 04:37 AM

'If you kill or rape or rob, you ought to be punished.'

That's a very one dimensional view, Joe. Look at the contributions made in history by killers,rapists and robbers. The vikings for example. Places like York and dublin would still be backwaters without the input of killers rapists and robbers.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 04:49 AM

"most people I know would happily take their cue from the scabloids and revert to the neanderthal practice of capital punishment, given the choice (evidence enough of that here) - god save us all from returning to those dark days.
Jim Carroll" ===
···
Jim: Not meaning simply to score facile debating points, nor to take up a position on either side of the capital punishment question, on which I admit to some ambivalence [the disadvantage, as I never tire of saying, of being able to see both sides] ~~~

but, out of genuine interest, how do you reconcile this undoubtedly accurate summary with your democratic principles?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 05:10 AM

I think that Western societies are deeply confused about crime and punishment.

On balance it's probably a good thing that the death penalty has been abolished - but mainly because, when it existed, there were far too many miscarriages of justice, and far too many innocent people went to the gallows; and poor people were more likely to be hung than rich people.

It also appears to me that appeasement of wrong-doers is endemic to our societies - we care far too much about the 'rights' of criminals and far too little about the rights of the victims of crime. On the international stage this is mainly to do with the machinations and self-interest of power elites but more parochially appears to be related to something that I call 'competitive piety'. Many people, who claim to be moralists (as a result of religious and secular ideologies) have latched on to the theory that criminal behaviour is more to do with nurture than nature and compete with each other to see who cares the most about the 'rights' of criminals (from 'broken homes'): "I care more than you do!". "No! I care more!". This isn't helpful.

I think that the rights of the victims of crime should be central to any truly 'just' justice system. Victims should be given the chance to confront the person who has wronged them (under controlled conditions, of course) and should have some say in how the wrong-doer is punished.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Silas
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 05:56 AM

I make no apologies for considering the death penalty for some crimes to be perfectly appropriate. It is nothing to do with revenge or out of any spirit of vindictiveness, just common practicality. I don't care how the sentance is carried out, you can hang, shoot, chop off their bleedin' heads for all I care, just remove them permenantly from our society.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: mayomick
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 06:14 AM

"The 'mortar' that holds all the bricks of this institution together is the City of London Corporation whose leaders and officers have supported justice so well for centuries." ………..
The Old Bailey's Senior Judge, His Honour Judge Peter Beaumont QC, speaking in 2007 at the ceremony marking the hundredth anniversary of the Old Bailey courthouse .

What I find particularly nasty and inhumane about the notion of punishment is the commercial aspect to it. A law-dispensing social elite's concept of individual (rather than social) responsibility for crime gets translated into the language of fair trade: the theft of a certain amount of money carefully calibrated as equivalent to X amount of flogging, time spent in prison or whatever . The earliest Roman coins depicted Justitia sword in one hand and scales in the other.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 06:42 AM

"out of genuine interest, how do you reconcile this undoubtedly accurate summary with your democratic principles?"
Because I was brought up to follow humanitarian instincts rather than political dictums.
Most people who I worked with in London hated "blacks and Asians" and would have been happy to "see them sent back to where they came from" - where should my democratic principles stand there? Surely humanity should override all our political principles.
As far as the ritual taking of life that capital punishment was - I have never understood how Christians reconcile that with their 'Christian' principles - perhaps you could help me with that one. Maybe it one of those inconveniences that get shelved along with taking your money and giving it to the poor!
If you want six good practical reasons why capital punishment is wrong, try these for size:
Paddy Joe Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlhenny, Gerry Hunter, Billy Power, Johnny Walker.
Or these;
Paul Hill, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong; Carole Richardson.
I suggest to anybody who has tender memories of the good old days of capital punishment, I highly recommend, (if it is still in print) John Deane Potter's 'The Fatal Gallows Tree - an account of the British habit of hanging'.
In it he describes how the last woman to hang, Ruth Ellis, went to the gallows wearing canvas drawers, because previous female victims' insides had a tendency to fall out during the process - a fact that sums up the whole barbaric practice for me. Ellis's ordeal leading up to her execution included a miscarriage, so the state got two for the price of one that time.
The book ends with a magnificent description of the last ditch attempt by the House of Lords to stop the proposed abolition.
"From the hills and forests of darkest Britain they came; the halt, the lame, the deaf, the obscure, the senile and the forgotten - the hereditary peers of England united in their determination to use their medieval powers to retain a medieval institution".
I'll drink to that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: mayomick
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 07:22 AM

"As far as the ritual taking of life that capital punishment was - I have never understood how Christians reconcile that with their 'Christian' principles - perhaps you could help me with that one."

The wiki entry on punishment suggests the word may actually derive from the Phoenician method of punishment -crucifixion -which was adopted by the Roman Empire and used to kill Jesus .

" Latin punire possibly was inspired by the Phoenician method of execution by means of crucifixion. Therefore the Carthaginian crosses were called signae poenae "signs of the Phoenicians"


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 07:40 AM

Silas, you say "You can hang, shoot, chop off their heads.....I don't care" But I wonder if you yourself would be prepared to actually carry out the sentence? Could you in fact bring yourself to end the life of a person, lift the axe, say, or release the 'drop' on the scaffold, coldly unmoved by the terror and despair of the person before you? The character of the Common Man in Robert Bolt's play A Man For All Seasons beheaded Thomas More, and felt he was only obeying orders and carried no responsibility for the execution. I know that I could not kill even a mass murderer. Therefore I don't feel comfortable with anyone doing it in my name so to speak. This is not to say I don't feel bitterly sorry for the victims and their families. But execution is a terrible terrible thing, to deliberately snuff out the last spark of life from a human being, no I cannot support that.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 07:42 AM

Very eloquent, Jim; & I do see what you mean. But this is, I fear, still anti-democratic. You recently denounced our present system because there are too few referenda {except, I think you said, in Ireland}: but now it appears that you hate & fear what the results of such referenda would probably be on this particular issue? I cannot escape the feeling that you are in something of a state of emotional confusion.

As am I ~~ as, indeed, I would urge, are we all: the point of my OP, I reiterate, is that all well-thinking people can see that punishment is generally a vain & disagreeable procedure which will solve little or nothing; but still no-one has ever managed to dispense with it or come up with a better idea.

~M~

A reminder: probably alone of all on this site, I actually knew Ruth Ellis & her victim; a fact I only mention again as of possible interest, as a sort of perverse name-drop perhaps, I admit, rather than as any sort of constructive contribution to the question at issue.


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