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NCJ Number: 201232 Find in a Library
Title: Penance, Punishment and the Limits of Community
Journal: Punishment & Society  Volume:5  Issue:3  Dated:July 2003  Pages:295-312
Author(s): R. A. Duff
Editor(s): Richard Sparks
Date Published: July 2003
Page Count: 18
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This article pursues the questions of how a believer’s beliefs should influence her ideas about criminal law and punishment and whether and how a non-believers’ secular ideas about criminal law and punishment might properly be influenced by ideas which find at least their historical origins in religious doctrines and practices.
Abstract: This paper focuses on punishment as it should, ideally, be not how it is actually inflicted by the existing systems of criminal law. It examines the role that may be played in the criminal law and its mechanism of punishment by religious reasons and by values often associated with religion. An argument is made that society can understand criminal punishment as a species of secular penance, as part of a communicative enterprise involving citizens. The article begins by considering what punishment might amount to in a religious context, within a religious community which is defined and united by its shared commitment to a particular theology. Criminal punishment is viewed as a very long way from punishment as it is actually practiced in the existing systems of criminal justice. The article concludes with an examination of can society, or should society, believe that reconciliation is always both possible and morally necessary or are these kinds of wrongdoing not just psychologically or socially difficult, but morally impossible. This offers a powerful critical tool for the identification of the major defects that exist in the current penal systems. References
Main Term(s): Punishment
Index Term(s): Criminology; Penology; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Religion; Sociology
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