Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

The Spectacle of Punishment College

In Michel Foucault’s Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, the author revels in tales of past penal methods involving brutal torture of the convicted criminal as a popular public spectacle. He subtly denounces the rigid yet humane schedules applied to contemporary imprisonment and the growing distance between the judicial system and the punishment of prisoners. At first, Foucault’s concern over a system in which criminal justice takes place mostly behind closed doors makes sense. Would it not be effective to scare potential wrongdoers into righteousness with horrific public scenes of pain and slow death of local criminals? However, in careful consideration, there are a multitude of flaws in Foucault’s sentiments. It is my belief that the long-ago methods of theatrical amande honorable are not an effective penal measure because they turned criminal punishment into a celebratory affair. The scenes of blood and gore were viewed by all, and Foucault ignores the fact that the corporal consequences were often much more despicable than the initial crime committed. Criminals are not deserving of society’s center stage. Instead of being dehumanized, they should be made relatable to the common person so one could imagine...

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