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Punishment

pain, inflicted, offence, vindictive, purpose, punish and ment

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PUNISHMENT. The verb to punish (whence the noun substantive punishment) is formed from the French punir, accord ing to the same analogy as furnish is formed from fournir, tarnish from ternir, finish from finir, &c. The French punir is derived from the Latin punire, anciently pcenire, which is connected with puma and the Greek poinh (wotni). Paine sig nified a pecuniary satisfaction for an offence, similar to the wergeld of the German codes : palm had doubtless originally a similar sense ; but in the Latin classical writers its meaning is equivalent to that of our word punish ment.

Punishment may be inflicted on men by a supernatural being or by men ; and it may be inflicted on them either in the present life, or in the existence which commences after death. Punishment may likewise be inflicted by men on the more intelligent and useful species of animals, such as horses and dogs. In the follow ing remarks, we confine ourselves to punishment inflicted by man on man.

The original idea of punishment was, pain inflicted on or endured by a person as a satisfaction or atonement by him for some offence which he had committed. (Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsalterthiimer, p. 646.) According to this conception of punishment, it appeared to be just that a person should suffer the same amount of pain which he had inflicted on others by his offence ; and hence the origin of the retaliatory principle of punishment, or the les talionis. This principle is of great antiquity, and is probably the earliest idea which all nations have formed concerning the nature of ment. It occurs among the early Greeks, and was attributed by them to their mythical prince and judge of Hades, Rhadamanthys. They embodied it in the following proverbial verse :— 17 xi weihn rcl feE/cURt; Is' ;his yiwro. (Aristot., Eth. Nic., v. 8.) The talio was also recognized in the Twelve Tables of Rome (Inst., iv. 4, 7), and upon it was founded the well-known provision of the Mosaic law, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth :" a maxim which is condemned by the Christian morality. (Matth., v. ; and Mi chaelis, Commentaries on the Laws of Moses, vol. iii. art. 240-2).

The infliction of pain for the purpose of exacting a satisfaction for an offence committed is vengeance, and punishment inflicted for this purpose is vindictive.

By degrees it was perceived that the infliction of pain for a vindictive purpose is not consistent with justice and utility, or with the spirit of the Christian ethics ; and that the proper end of punishment is not to avenge past, but to prevent future offences. (Puffendorfs Droit de Nature et des Gene, viii. 3, ; Black stone's Commentaries, vol. iv. P. 11.) This end can only be attained by in flicting pain on persons who have com mitted the offences ; and as this effect is also produced by vindictive punishment, vindictive punishment incidentally tends to deter from the commission of offences. Hence Lord Bacon justly calls revenge a sort of wild justice.

But inasmuch as the proper end of punishment is to deter from the commis sion of offences, punishment inflicted on the vindictive principle often fails to pro duce the desired purpose, and moreover often involves the infliction of an un necessary amount of pain. All punish ment is an evil, though a necessary one. The pain produced by the offence is one evil ; the pain produced by the punish ment is an additional evil; though the latter is necessary, in order to prevent the recurrence of the offence. Con sequently a penal system ought to aim at economizing pain, by diffusing the largest amount of salutary terror, and thereby deterring as much as possible from crimes, at the smallest expense of punishments actually inflicted; or (as the idea is con cisely expressed by Cicero), " ut meths ad omnes, pcena ad paucos, perveniret." (Pro Cluentio, c. 46.) It follows from what has been said, that it is essential to a punishment to be painful. Accordingly, all the known punishments have involved the infliction of pain by different means, as death, mutilation of the body, flogging or beat ing, privation of bodily liberty by con finement of various sorts, banishment, forced labour, privation of civil rights, pecuniary fine. The punishment of death is called capital punishment : other punishments are sometimes known by the name of secondary punishments. More over, the pain ought to be sufficiently great to deter persons from committing the offence, and not greater than is necessary for this purpose.

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