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Meaning and Nature of Punishment

NCJ Number
David Shichor
Date Published
231 pages
This book reviews the rationale for and methods of punishment mandated by laws and implemented by government institutions, which are shaped by cultural influences.
The first part of the book examines the historical, theoretical, and philosophical sources and justifications for punishment that focus not only on the study of criminal behavior and methods to control it, but also on the study of societies and cultures. The first of four chapters in part 1 addresses punishment as a means of social control, both formal and informal, and in both civil and criminal law. The second chapter considers cultural, social, and symbolic aspects of law and punishment, followed by a chapter that reviews the theories and justifications for punishment. Part 1 concludes with a chapter that reviews recent trends in penal policies and practices. The seven chapters of part 2 address the various methods of administering punishment. A chapter on the evolution of incarceration addresses the use of galleys and workhouse, as well as banishment and transportation. Another chapter reviews the emergence of penitentiaries and prisons, with attention to "enlightenment" influences, Quakers and the Pennsylvania system, the Auburn system, the period of prison expansion, total institutions, inmate subcultures, and incarceration as policy. A chapter on "emerging issues" focuses on private prisons and women's prisons. This is followed by two chapters on community-based alternatives to incarceration, i.e., parole, and probation and intermediate sanctions. A chapter on capital punishment examines its historical roots; constitutionality based on U.S. Supreme Court decisions in "Forman" and "McCleskey" and rationales and concerns. The concluding chapter addresses "special issues in punishment." Topics discussed are mandatory sentences and "three-strikes" laws, sentencing commissions and alternative courts, the enduring effects of punishment, and the punishment of "white-collar" and corporate crime. 400 references and a subject index


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