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Punishment is just beneficial for society. This essay will

Punishment can be explained as the balancing of the scales
of justice, deterrence of crime, control of deviance and expression of power –
keeping everything controlled in society (Smith, 2008).  It
is agreed that the number of prisoners in England and Wales is worryingly high
and rapidly increasing. Between the mid 1950’s and 1970s, the number of
prisoners in England and Wales doubled from 20,000 – 40,000 (Garside,
2010).  Furthermore, the prison
population in England and Wales has rapidly increased between 1975 (39,820) –
2012 (86,352) (Cavadino, Dignan & Mair 2013). Criminologists are confused
by these statistics as crime rate fell in the mid 1990’s but the prison
population was growing rapidly. Logically, the prison population should have
decreased alongside falls in the crime rate but this was un-evident. There are
a range of critical factors and theories why there is possibly no correlation between
prison population and level of crime and why Waquant questions it if the
criminal justice system is just beneficial for society. This essay will address
the issues and theories raised by Rusche and Krichheimer, Durkheim, Foucault, Cohen
and Waquant. Firstly, the essay will address sentencing decisions that are made
by the courts. 

Sentencing decision is very important as it decides whether
offenders should be propelled to custody and length of time. Sentencing
decisions are widely influenced upon government policies. Government parties
attempted to keep the prison population low by using a mixture of legislation
and exhortations to the court. In contrast to this, John Major’s conservative
administration reversed this idea and put forward policies that would increase
the prison population along with home secretary, Michael Howard that ‘prison
works’ in order to control crime.  New
Labour administrators dropped the slogan ‘prison works’ but shown very little
interest in reducing custodial sentences. Therefore, prison population
increased to even greater heights under New Labour. Rising rates of
imprisonment are not necessary a result of rising crime.  This is because very little cases are brought
to the courts and fewer have the offender prosecuted. Therefore, this causes a
fluctuation and imbalance of crime rates and imprisonment, which supports to
Waquant’s quote, as there is no robust correlation between crime rates and
imprisonment. (Anthony, Thalia, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of
Sydney, Cunneen, Chris, Faculty of Law, UNSW 2008).

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Rusche and Krichheimer believe punishment can be understood
in relation to the political economy, which they believe to be capitalism.
Punishment enforces control over the labour force and labour market and
therefore can be controlled through the criminal justice system. Rusche and
Kricheimer (1968) further argue changes in the political economy and changes in
social structure throughout history change the nature of punishments. This then
enforces punishments to change in line with the political economy.

Punishments in the medieval period, compared to later
centuries, were fairly minor. For example, fines were used as punishment. In
addition penance was also used as punishment. This was idea when a wayward
Catholic established a right relationship between God and themselves. They
could do this by reading and reciting the bible (Slick,n.d). The population was
also quite low, very agricultural.

In contrast to the medieval
period, in the 17th century, early capitalism was coming
in and industrial revolution was emerging. There was a distinct pattern of
people moving out of their land they had lived in for years, more land was being
sold and individuals building their properties. Property owners were moving in
and different cities were trying to become established. As there was a move
from the medieval times, according to Rusche and Kirchheimer, there was a need
to change the idea of the criminal justice system. This would discipline people
to work in the workshops, workhouses and factories. For that reason, if they
did not comply, there would be severe punishments. At this time, it was vital
for capitalism to have a labour force and needed to have individuals who were
compliant, respectful, disciplined and well behaved.

In the 18th Century, there were a number of
changes – industrialisation, urbanisation and substantial population growth
(Flynn and Scott, 2014). Gallery slavery, transportation to colonies and
productive hard labour replaced corporal capital punishments to support the new
capitalist system.  Imprisonment became
the main form of punishment. Jeremy Bentham’s prison blueprint – the Panopticon
opened in 1843. Pratt (2002 as cited in in Anthony, Thalia, Lecturer,
Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Cunneen, Chris, Faculty of Law, UNSW 2008)
argued that the panopticon became very influential on 19th century
prison buildings. It was designed to be managed by the private sector and open
to the public. However, Rusche and Kircheimer have been criticised of economic
determinism. They offer a reductionist account, which highlights the economic
imperative of capitalism as the main reason to explain the use of punishment in
a capitalist society.

As Smith (2008) expressed that punishment is about keeping
everything controlled in society, Durkheim (1893 as cited in Anthony, Thalia,
Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Cunneen, Chris, Faculty of Law,
UNSW 2008) argued it is very important to respond to those who commit crime
with punishment. If we don’t, then this will cause the criminal law to lose its
authority.  Durkheim had the idea of imprisonment
as a cultural institution. Durkheim was the founder of structural
functionalist. He was interested in how industrial society and how such a
complex structure was held together (Marsh et al., 2011).  Durkheim believed that society is a moral
entity with beliefs and values that were shaped as his own. He had the idea
that punishment does not reduce crime but has a much wider purpose. It has
positive functions for society. However, a large amount of crime is negative
for society and can help bring about its collapse. He believed that crime does
not have a utilitarian purpose – it is not linked to money.

Crime is useful and criminals can be punished publically,
resulting in the general public deciding whether some behaviour’s are morally
wrong or morally right which is known as social regulation. Each time the
police arrest an individual, this makes it clear for the general public in
society that the behaviour or action is unacceptable (Revise Sociology Foucault
– Surveillance and Crime Control, 2016). Furthermore, when criminals were
executed, individuals came out in hundreds and thousands to witness criminal’s
being killed. This is known as Collective Effervescence. People began to share
a common belief and culture in reference to crime. However, when Bentham created
the idea of the panopticon designs of prison, Durkheim had the idea that this
would reduce of viewing people being punished for their actions and reducing
the shared beliefs. As soon as that shared belief and culture disappears, it
results in Anomie – The idea of people going in different directions.  Crime and punishment binds society together
within a collective consciousness and this is functional for society, which
portrays why the criminal justice system has been maintained.

 Durkheim suggests the
criminal justice system benefits everyone in society.  Identifying the criminal, punishing them and
reinforcing the adequate and suitable behaviours that are required in society.
Although, Marxists, Rusche and Kircheimer and Feminists argue that criminals
are not punished equally and therefore crime and punishment benefit the
powerful compared to the powerless individuals in society. In contrast to this,
interactionists suggest that expressing that crime is not functional for
society and is not determined objectively and fully depends on the criminal’s
relationship with the crime committed. Functionalists also put forward the idea
that society has universal norms and values for crimes that are committed and
punishment performed publically. However, postmodernist dispute this idea and
argue that society is so diverse there is no such thing as normal. Furthermore,
as Durkheim indicates crime is functional for society and theorizes it as
necessary, he fails to distinguish between the different types of crime. It is
a possibility that crimes maybe harmful towards society therefore making crime dysfunctional.
(The Functionalist Perspective of Crime and Deviance, 2016)

The
French philosopher and historian, Michael Foucault, offered critical
perspectives on punishment in Western societies. In Foucault’s post-structural
view of post-modernist society he argued power is exerted through
governmentality in different forms. In contrast to Marx-inspired ideologies of
punishment, Foucault de-establishes the link between punishment and economic
imperatives. His perspective on crime rather reinforces the ideas of power and
discourse as main variables that shape the development of punishment and the
penal system (Pamela Ugwudike, 2015).

Punishment is argued to be more civilised and more
humanitarian than in previous times. Foucault (1979 as cited in Anthony,
Thalia, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Cunneen, Chris, Faculty
of Law, UNSW 2008) has illustrated that punishment in the early part of the 19th
century was targeted at the body of offenders and punishments were performed in
public. This could be in forms of executions, floggings and stoning’s. These
performances had the ability to draw communities together to turn them against
criminals who were put across as the enemy. The baroque rituals death penalties
caused in the 19th century were atrocious.  Putting the criminals to death simply was not
enough. In some cases, individuals were decapitated after hanging and bodies
were displayed. This further punishment to the deceased indicated the authority
and power of the sovereign over the lives on individuals. This also highlights
the economic and imperial purposes in the form on transportation to the
colonies. (Anthony, Thalia, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney,
Cunneen, Chris, Faculty of Law, UNSW 2008).

Foucault
(1977; 138 as cited in Pamela Ugwidike, 2015) recognised individuals targeted
for penal confinement and conversion into the labour force as the poor. Members
of this group included beggars, poor and the unemployed – they did not actively
contribute to production. Houses of correction and workhouses served as the
primary way of containing this group before the emergence of prisons (De
Giorgi, 2010 as cited in Pamela Ugwudike, 2015).

Foucault
expresses that punishment has reformed from being a public spectacle as being
now hidden away behind prison walls and has also changed from physical to more
psychological. It is argued that punishment today is about changing the mind
and soul rather than inflicting physical pain upon an individual. This
highlights how power has changed in society.  
We have been driven away by the sovereign power to disciplinary power,
which emerged in the 19th century. Punishment now takes place in
prisons and there is a strong desire to reform, rehabilitate and deter
criminals from committing crime and include interventions such as education
programmes (The
Functionalist Perspective Of Crime And Deviance, 2016). Punishment today is
more effective, more humanitarian and civilised. The overall aim Foucault is to
not to punish less but more effectively therefore expecting the level of crime
to reduce. Although, punishing single crimes will not reduce recidivism but it conveys
the idea that prison encourages more crime. That’s not the purpose of prison
but there continues to be a criminal justice system that uses prison as a
punishment. This is because it is about disciplining society and making sure
everyone conforms to the norms.  This supports
Waquant’s quote highlights why criminal justice systems have been maintained
and are significant to society so people adhere to the norms, than reducing
crime.

Foucault
was interested in the principles of surveillance. Jeremy Bentham envisaged a
circular building with the prisoner’s cell around the outer circle and central
point with an inspection tower in the middle. From this position, the prison
guards were able to view prisoners at any time in their cells but prisoners
were not able to see the inspector himself (UCL, N.d). This technology used in
prisons has now been exported into society and therefore, similarly, the public
now live in a prison. He expressed that we live in a Carceral Society. Social
order requires power and control over the working class. Although, Foucault
argues that the power and control is being exercised through different
disciplines and not through a state in a hierarchal way. This highlights where
Foucault slightly disagrees with traditional Marxists views. He argues power as
being through the various technologies and not necessarily through capitalism
as imprisonment is necessary for capitalism and not a product of it.

 

 

Everyone
is subject to disciplinary power. The use of CCTV in public and surveillance in
other organisations such as hospitals, schools and businesses is a social norm
accepted by the general public. We can identify disciplinary power in these
organisations through electronic registers, performance monitoring and
monitoring healthcare. We have no privacy and we accept this submissively. This
reinforces the idea that the public obey rules. Members of the general public
are aware they are being watched. This causes individuals to regulate their
behaviour to the social norms in fear of being punished.

Furthermore,
Welch (2011 as cited in Ugwudike, 2015) critics argue that panoptic strategies
create resistance rather than conformity. Mathisen (1997 as cited in Ugwidke,
2015) recognised an important error in Foucault’s findings. He argued the
surveillance strategy allows few people to view the many. Though, it is the failure
to identify the media makes it possible for synoptic observation and the many
are able to observe the few. The existence of these processes creates a viewer
society in which synoptic observations and not panoptic observations and creates
self-regulating individuals. These individuals conform to capitalist order.

Cohen
1985(as cited in Ugwudike, 2015) further expanded on Foucault’s work. Cohen
states that control mechanisms are expanding beyond the traditional confined of
the criminal justice area.  He argues the
links between prisoners, community, public and private have been increasingly
harder to establish, as there has been a change in social control.  The introduction of alternatives to custodial
sentences such as community sentences brings in an increased amount of people
into the criminal justice system who would not have received custodial
sentences before. This widening of the net of the criminal justice system can
lead to uptarrifing, having a harsher punishment if they have re-offended or in
violation of a sentence they received previously. These processes that Cohen
identifies extend the reach of penal control beyond of the inside prison walls
and make their way into society which shows that the criminal justice system as
it has more significant for society.

Waquant
articulates that sociology is to produce knowledge and encourage individuals to
critically reflect on issues – Political subjects, speeches and political
imperatives. Waquant like Foucault argues that imprisonment is a product of the
state that the capitalist as a whole. He acknowledges that Foucault has out
forth the most influential analysis of the role and increase of prisons. He
argues that neo-liberalism is an important factor that has created and shaped
the progress of penal policy in western societies. Neo-liberalism is defined as
political agenda that has developed from western societies – An ideological
project and governmental practice that orders submission to the free market
(Pamela Ugwudike, 2015).

The
late 20th century witnessed an increase in racial division and elite
individuals have identified black identity as a symbol of danger. Waquant (2009
as cited in Pamela Ugwudike, 2015) argued that state elites have introduced policies,
which have led to a dramatic further increase of the penal state in the US as
well as other countries. He further discusses that prison is now a political
instrument for social insecurity rather than criminal insecurity. Therefore,
established no link between US incarceration rates and US crime rates, as they
do not correspond. The idea of penalisation of poverty through reduced workfare
and enhanced penal regulation additionally also serves as a means of addressing
civil disorder. This highlights that it is used to discipline the unemployed
and poor. The combination of reduced welfare provision and enhanced penal
regulation is to facilitate the continuous use of authority by political elites
in a culture of reduced public legitimacy. This reduced legitimacy branches
from the failure of state officials to sustain Keynesian social welfare
policies. In reaction to the issue, prisons have been changed from its
rehabilitative aim and now manage the adverse impact of neo-liberal social and
penal policies (Pamela Ugwudike, 2015). In addition, the managing of marginal
groups helps remove people labelled as disruptive from visibility therefore
reduces declining social welfare provision and channels the target group into
invisibility.

Waquant
account of punishment does reiterate like other theorist punishment as an
element of control. He believes that neo-liberal policies overlook structural
marginalisation and has been damaged by the hallmarks of neo-liberalism. The
individuals that have been marginalised by the neo-liberal policies are
considered to be threats to the neo-liberal order. The individuals who have their
crime traced back to them, prison acts as a way of containing them and
neo-liberal order is intact. This illustrates to us that criminal justice
systems does have a far broader significance to society than reducing crime.

 Waquant’s work is criticised by other critical
criminologist. It is argued that it is wrong to imply that social and penal
policies in the US apply in other places such as Europe. Nelken (2012 as cited
in Ugwudike, 2015) suggest that this has not occurred in other jurisdictions as
Waquant suggest it would. Although, Waquant does provide a very useful account,
he ignores some vital issues such as feminism. Gelsthorpe (2010 as cited in
Ugwidike, 2015) argues women make up a very high proportion of those affected
by the workfare. It is also criticised that Waquant ignores the ability of
socio-economically marginalised targets of harsh social and penal policies to
resist the environments that disadvantages them.

The
critical perspectives of punishment give insight into wider structural factors
that shape the prisons and punishment in western societies. The critical
criminologist such as Foucault, Durkheim, Waquant, Rusche and Krichheimer views
have similarities but do differ. Rusche and Kricheimer argue punishment enforces
control over the labour force and labour market and is controlled through the
criminal justice system whereas Durkheim argues that crime is functional for
society and the criminal justice system is beneficial for everyone. Rusche and
Kricheimer disagree with this because not everyone is punished equally so it
benefits the powerful rather than the powerless. Foucault focuses on punishment
being more civilised and humanitarian. Instead of it being public, we now
punish behind prison walls resulting in the idea of not punishing more
effectively. Cohen then expanded on Foucault’s ideas and explanations saying
instead of just custodial sentences, sentences have now expanded. Waquant puts
forward the idea that neo-liberalism is an important factor that has created and shaped
the progress of penal. However, critical criminologists agree that punishment
collectively works as a mechanism of control, which illustrates that, the
criminal justice system as just having a significance for society. These
actions that are used to control society makes it vulnerable to threaten
economic and social order, which is shown to be the main aim of the criminal
justice system. However, Foucault and Waquant confirm links between
socio-economic conditions of capitalist society and punishment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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