Foucault and Punishment Essay

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Change over time; that is a common theme with everything in the world. The concept of punishment is no different in that regard. In the 16th and 17th century the common view for punishing people was retaliation from the king and to be done in the town square. In what seemed to be all of a sudden, there was a change in human thinking, the concept of punishment changed to a more psychological approach compared to a public embarrassment/torture approach. The following paragraphs will discuss the development of prisons and what in fact gives people gives people the right to punish; as well as the overall meaning and function of prisons. The work by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison will help with the arguments…show more content…
The public spectacle went as far as chain-gangs until that was abolished in 1848 (Foucault 8). The reason for this change, according to Foucault, was due to the overwhelming thought of humanization that developed in society. How did this change to a humanization thinking come about and more importantly how was it implemented into the penal system? Foucault accredits the evolution to the humanization process of thinking based on how people portrayed the executioner. What that means is the overwhelming sense of savagery that was bestowed into the people by the fact that the punishment had ‘out-done’ the crime itself. “It was as if the punishment was thought to equal, if not exceed, in savagery the crime itself, to accustom the spectators to a ferocity from which wished to divert them…to make the executioner resemble a criminal, judges murderers, to reverse roles at the last moment, to make the tortured criminal an object of pity or admiration” (Foucault 9). The perception by the people in seeing how criminals were dealt with was the turning point and the leading factor to the eventual development of prisons. With the development of prisons, this changed how punishment and torture was viewed, at least in the public eye. The act of torturing, however unfortunate, comes naturally in regards to punishment. A big reason to why torture is no longer heard about in the prisons is because torture is now done the private spectrum instead of in
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