A Pardon for Punishment

Essay Published 4 Jun, 2020 · 327 Words

The criminal justice system is a part of the government some cannot live with and some cannot live without. The former usually belongs to whom people usually refer to as criminals. One of the worst punishments a human being could have in the twenty-first century is executed mostly behind closed doors, with a minimum number of witnesses. But it hasn’t always been as such. Compared to the last few centuries, the penal system of our time is the most closed it has ever been. Considering that of the Middle Ages, hanging or torturing a thief or murderer on public display was a normal act. When it comes to thinking of it. Most consider the punishments of the penal system of times of old as horrific acts that disrespect humanity as a whole and those who carried out those sentences as immoral. Then we appraise ourselves from a moral high ground, thinking we’ve very different from the monsters that lived before us. But is that really the case? The only difference between us and them is the motive of the authoritative system in power. The reason we do not boil people alive as punishment is that the socio-economic system we currently have is mainly driven by humanism; humans above anything. And the power dynamic that drove the Middle Ages is a contract between the people in power and the citizens. A contract of protection in exchange for cooperation. To ensure security the penal system then did not care about justice or fairness because that wasn’t the purpose. Their goal was to control, to lower crime as much as possible to ensure the contract was fulfilled. But to make sure crime was as low as possible. Public spectacles of punishments were used. This method of control was so successful, it was the prominent method of power for multiple centuries. But like all systems, even this had flaws. Which resulted in the system being abandoned because of the very method it perfected. Punishment.

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