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The History and Evolution of Punishment for Crime Essay

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The incarceration rate in the United States has continued to climb over the past twenty years making it one of the highest in the world. Police officers have been going to work trying to put away people who are breaking the law, but why do criminals continue to do so when they know they have a good chance of getting caught? Crime has been around since societies have evolved and every society has had their own way of dealing with criminal behavior. From early tribal times where the thinking was an eye for an eye, to medieval times when people who stole a loaf of bread would be put to death by being hung, and today with a court system that decides the fate of a criminal. Throughout history the ways of punishing people have changed pretty dramatically and the theories of how punishment should be handed out has had an influence on the way we run our system today. There have been many thoughts on the root of the crime problem, some believe that there is a criminal gene and some believe its all learned behavior, but it still seems today that even the threat of being put to death for a crime doesn’t stop people from committing them. In today’s society the ends outweigh the means and people will go to extreme measures to have a piece of the pie, so we must continue to try and deter these criminals through the threat of punishment.
Early tribal societies had primitive legal systems which were maintained through norms and traditions. They had no written laws, just the norms that had been passed down from person to person throughout hundreds of years. An example is Hammurabi’s code, an eye for an eye. Whatever crime someone commits the same crime shall be committed against that original person, this was the way to solve or punish crimes. A...


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...ill continue to happen and criminals will continue to find ways to break the law and get away with it, the history of punishment has changed and with threat of being punished maybe people will decide to change their mind about crime


Works Cited
Hoffner 1997:71, G. Skoll Contemporary Criminology and Criminal Justice Theory pg 26

"Torture in the Tower of London, 1597," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2005).

Chambliss 1964 Laws of Vagrancy, pg394

Crime and Punishment in Victorian England, James Jackson, May 30, 2009

Lecture notes 9/14

Contemporary Criminology and Criminal justice Theory, G. Skoll pg. 27

Cesare Beccaria, Of Crimes and Punishment Chapter 2

George H. Mead, March 1918, The Psychology of Punitive Justice pg 585

Release Preparation, Federal Bureau of Prisons,
http://www.bop.gov/inmate_programs/release_emp.jsp


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