Crime and punishment

Different societies define crime in different ways at different times in their histories. Early peoples punished crime by banishment or death; often banishment was a death sentence. At some point in our history, we started using imprisonment in place of banishment, perhaps when we ran out of places to send the banished. Imprisonment meant the loss of freedom as well as a reduction in the quantity and/or quality of food and shelter. Often prisoners were forced to work at hard labor and were sometimes tortured. Details varied from one system to another, whether it was a Soviet gulag, a French prison island, an US jail or Guantanamo, but the essential punishments were the same, loss of freedom and a reduction in food and shelter. Occasionally lip service was paid to rehabilitation, but the emphasis was never truly there. In my opinion, it is time to rethink how we treat our criminals. There are some crimes that are crimes in all human societies, but there are other crimes that differ from one society to another. A crime here may not be a crime there. Until we treat all crimes the same everywhere, I advocate leniency on our lesser crimes.

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