History of Punishment

History of Punishment

Punishment was imposed by the community on those who broke the law.  Flogging, beheading, hanging, or electrocution was implemented as punishment during the earliest time. The history of punishment differs from these days now. Ancient punishment was considered brutal often too severe than the committed crime. Eventually, laws and rules regarding crime and punishment changed.

Hammurabi and the Laws of Retribution

            Hammurabi was a Babylonian king who ruled from 1792 until 1750 B.C.E. The first known code of law (the origin of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”) was a set of legal precedents for different types of crimes and disputes, ranging from family law to contracts and major crimes. One of the earliest examples of the “innocent until proven guilty” adage that we still follow today. The Code of Hammurabi included specific punishments based on the criminal’s age, social class, and gender. The code of law relies heavily upon the laws of retribution which means if an individual has taken someone’s life, then the punishment would be to take his own life.

Criminal Justice System

            The practices of criminology encompassed the period between the late 17th century and the late 18th century. Cesare Beccaria was the spokesperson of the movement. Italian writer wrote a book called “On Crime and Punishment” in which he stated that punishments should match the severity of a crime and that it should be a way to scare others from committing crimes. Essentially a major shift in the way people views the world and punishment.

The Establishment of Prisons

            Before the 18th century, prisons were developed in England and were mostly used to hold prisoners before their trial. However, prisons became extremely overcrowded. As a result of prison conditions, prisoners are often neglected, ill, and even die.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, Section five, no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. There are still many prisons around the world inflicting cruelty on their inmates to this day.

Capital Punishment

The death penalty still imposes in some countries, however, most western countries abolished capital punishment century ago or cease to inflict it.

Supporters of the penalty argue for its deterrent factor, yet there is no evidence that capital punishment has that effect. There are no clear answers in the moral and philosophical debate over the state’s right to kill. Today’s punishments may be more “civilized” than the vigilante justice of the Old West. It is important for people to understand that even when society imposes a punishment for breaking the social contract, they are still responsible for those consequences.

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