Limits to Pain: The Role of Punishment in Penal Policy

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Inflicting pain is a serious matter, often at variance with cherished values such as kindness and forgiveness. Attempts might therefore be made to hide the basic character of the activity, or to give various "scientific" reasons for inflicting pain. Such attempts are systematically described in this book, and related to social conditions. None of these attempts to cope with pain seem to be quite satisfactory. It is as if societies in their struggle with penal theories oscillate between attempts to solve an insoluble dilemma.Punishment is used less in some systems than in others. On the basis of examples from systems where pain is rarely inflicted, some general conditions for a low level of pain infliction are formulated. The standpoint is that if pain is to be applied, this should be done without a manipulative purpose and in a social form resembling that which is normal when people are in deep sorrow.Most of the material is from Scandinavia, but the book draws extensively on the crime control debate in the United Kingdom and USA.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556355974
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Series: Restorative Justice Classics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 122
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Nils Christie is professor of Criminology, Faculty of Law, at the University of Oslo, Norway. He is the author of thirteen books, mostly on crime and crime control, but also on education, drug control, and alternative communities. His most recent book is A Suitable Amount of Crime (Routledge, 2004), which is out in 13 languages.

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Table of Contents

On Pain     9
The Shield of Words     13
Treatment for Crime     20
From alcohol to dangerousness     20
The great explorers     22
The downfall of an empire     24
Deterrence     27
The twin ideologies     27
Scientification of the obvious     30
Level of pain delivery     32
Crime control as the goal for crime control?     33
An opener to neo-classicism     36
Neo-Classicism     37
Birth and re-birth     37
With Beccaria to USA     38
Beccaria in Scandinavia     40
The Hidden Curriculum     44
Crime is not important enough     44
Blaming individuals, not systems     46
Pain is not kind enough     46
Neutralization of guilt     49
The strong state     50
The Computer     53
Neo-Positivism     58
The impotent society     58
Advocates for control     62
Our comrades     65
My comrade, the functionary     67
Pain Forever?     70
A one-dimensional pendulum     70
Experts needed     72
Subterranean patterns     73
Counter cultures     75
Some Conditions for a Low Level of Pain Infliction     81
Knowledge     81
Power     83
Vulnerability     85
Mutual dependence     88
Belief system     90
Participatory Justice     92
Civilization of conflicts     92
Compensatory justice     94
Punishment as mourning     98
The informal economy     105
Justice to the weak     109
Limits to limits?     113
In Contrast to Pain     117
Bibliography     119
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