• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

‘A lucid and fascinating account of how society initially comes to be viewed as ‘civilized’ on the basis of how it punishes its offenders, and the various numances and contradictions that form the backdrop to that ‘civilization’ prior to 1970 and the unraveling of that process thereafter. …He [Pratt] has at the very least broadened the boundaries of the debate about the history of imprisonment in new and novel ways that will surely become a basis for future analysis’ - The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice

‘In presenting and organizing such a wealth of historical material, John Pratt's book will be welcomed by those who teach and study the history of the prison in the English-speaking world’ - Criminal Justice

Punishment and Civilization examines how a framework of punishment that suited the values and standards of the civilized world came to be set in place from around 1800 to the late 20th century. In this book, John Pratt draws on research about prison architecture, clothing, diet, hygienic arrangements and changes in penal language to establish this.

The author demonstrates that this did not mean, however, that such a framework of punishment was ‘civilized’. Instead it meant that punishment in the civilized world became anonymous and remote. Prison brutalities and privations could be largely unchecked by a public that did not want to be involved. In the last few decades it has become clear that civilized societies have to tolerate new boundaries of punishment. This is not because of any development of ‘civilized punishment’. Instead this is due to a shift in public mood and power: from public indifference to public involvement in penal development.

Throughout this text theoretical ideas and concepts are accessibly introduced and illustrated with a wide range of examples from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It will be essential reading for students and academics of punishment, prisons and social theory.

The Memories of Prisoners
The memories of prisoners

The formal penal language that was being spoken in the 1960s, stripped of pejorative, emotive content, by and large, and replaced by that of scientific, objective rationality, had been sanitized: in line with the values of punishment in the civilized world, it reflected both the technocratic efficiency of the authorities and their humanitarian intent. By the same token, it was as if the concept of punishment itself had become too delicate, too unpleasant a matter to be spoken of – at least in the elite circles of penal reformers, experts, administrators, and the like. But this kind of language, claiming to represent what was taking place behind the prison walls, represented only one version of the reality of ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles