posted on Sep, 28 2006 @ 06:30 AM
Since the beginning of time there has been crime, and since the beginning there has been punishment. In the beginning without a public/general
government, punishment was more personal retribution than anything else. Later the Justice system fell into the laps of the kings, and the
responsibility was later shifted to the Courts of the kings. As time went by the Courts were separated from the Governments. More or less to the
system we have today. (A very short summation of a complex history.)
Punishment also varied from torture, to “an eye for an eye”, to being locked up in jails to death. Now, justice is a very complex topic, and one
should consider moral implications, emotional implications, fairness, and so on and so forth.
The death penalty (capital punishment) was a favorite form of punishment throughout history, but was abolished in the majority of first world
countries, but is still an acceptable form of punishment in some modern (and most less modern) countries (and states). The death penalty serves two
purposes. To punish a criminal for extreme crimes, and to deter possible criminals from committing a crime, i.e. to keep the general population in
line. There is actually little proof that the death penalty does what it is supposed to do. Especially if you look back at the days of public
executions where hundreds and thousands of people were publicly executed, in extreme ways – especially in England as a discouragement to the chaotic
crime wave. No matter the amount of executed “criminals”, crime did not decline, until the instatement of a decent law enforcement agency.
Even with law enforcement agencies, and a complex judicial system, there are still high crime statistics. Criminals (keep in mind that each and every
person is a potential criminal) are not deterred by any “threat” of punishment. In the past couple of years we’ve changed our approach to crime
from re-active to pro-active with high-tech security systems, including CCTV (especially in public places), visible policing, fences, alarms, and so
on. We are trying to prevent crime, rather than using punishment as a deterrent.
Yet our jails are full. In some parts of even the most modern cities there are parts you won’t dare wander alone. Obviously locking up criminals
(and sometimes throwing away the key) does not work, and in many cases criminals come out of jail worse off than when they first went in. Few
criminals are reformed, and many of them end up in jail again and again. Clearly they didn’t see their time in jail as punishment.
Is taking someone out of society into a dark room really punishment? For some it may be, those that are not “criminal minds” but ended up in jail
because of circumstances may feel jail time is valid punishment. But for the rest if not the majority?
Isn’t it time that governments and/or jurisdictional bodies re-evaluate the current punishment methods? In my opinion it’s not very effective.
They’ve been using this system for thousands of years, but does it really work? Well, you’ll say that it must be effective if they’ve been using
it this long, but it can’t be effective enough if it doesn’t stop criminals from doing what they’re doing, can it?