Crime and Punishment part 1 — Especially Punishment

An eye for an eye

For much of history, things were simple. People are not to violate the laws, and if they do, that in itself demands that they be punished. For the sake of the victims, if applicable. And if not, then for the sake of society as a whole. A crime, so the thinking went, was a transgression against a higher principle — societal cohesion, solidarity among the people, the King’s peace, God’s laws — take your pick, the basic idea behind all of those is the same.

Full circle, once more

That is all good and well, you may say. But humanity has come a long way since the Fertile Crescent, or pre-revolutionary France. We no longer punish people just for the hell of it. We are long past “an eye for an eye”. We no longer demand wrongdoers suffer for the sake of (there it is again) satisfying people’s lust for revenge in a somewhat civilized-looking manner. No, today we have embraced criminal justice as a way of imposing accountability, to show criminals the error of their ways and to try and turn them into law-abiding members of society.

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