Term Paper: Corrections Punishment in a Historical Perspective

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Corrections

Punishment in a historical perspective

There has always been much controversy concerning criminals and the effect that punishment is expected to have on them and on society as a whole. People have traditionally perceived punishment as a form of castigation meant to have criminals suffer for the wrongs that they performed. Others believed that it was meant to influence others to refrain from committing illegalities as a result of seeing that the authorities were employing harsh attitudes toward criminals. Last, but not least, some considered that punishment was a form of reeducating individuals with the purpose of assisting them in being able to reintegrate the social order as honest persons.

The history of punishments goes back as far as Gildamesh, near the year of 2700 B.C. Although the idea of punishing someone for a wrong that the respective person committed is old, it was not until Gildamesh that laws were actually designed with the purpose of differentiating between acts that people could perform and acts that were illegal. The masses did not express particular interest in the matter, as they considered it perfectly normal for individuals to be punished as a consequence of their offenses (Leyons 1).

Most people are familiar with the Code of Hammurabi as being written around 1750 B.C. And as being the first official organized document which provided a strict set of laws. "By this code, the abiding principle was Talio which had to do for mutilating or amputating the part of the body that had committed a crime" (Leyons 1). This law system is responsible for issuing numerous death punishments and is largely believed to have inspired a series of other legal codes that followed.

The Code of Hammurabi inspired the Greeks and the Greeks inspired the Romans, who had one of the most complex law systems ever. These peoples practically wanted to guarantee that stability and equality were made possible as a result of individuals fearing the repercussions associated with committing a crime. Punishment was practically the universal response to an instance in which a person committed a crime.

Punishments are very diverse and they differ on account of concepts such as cultural values, the gravity of the crimes that they are meant to be a response to, and people's determination to set examples out of criminals. As one is likely to understand consequent to becoming acquainted with the condition involving the Code of Hammurabi, the Ancient Greeks, and the Romans, "all societies and social groups develop ways to control behavior that violates norms" (Miethe & Lu, 2). In order for a person to be categorized as a social individual,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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