Having described punishment as “pain intended as pain”, Christie continues in the preface: “None of the attempts to cope with the intended pain seems, however, to be quite satisfactory. Attempts to change the law-breaker create problems of justice. Attempts to inflict
Nils Christie (1928 – 2015) was a Norwegian criminologist and sage who gave us profoundly different ways of thinking about crime and punishment. His insights are always grounded in humanity, wisdom and indeed practical good sense. For an accessible introduction
Can ‘tough’ community sentences reduce numbers in prison?
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, urges that fewer criminals should be jailed and tougher community punishments must be developed as an alternative to imprisonment. It is most encouraging to see recognition of the state of the prisons by
Too soft? So what would be the right punishment? (Part III)
Every week (and sometimes it seems like every day) the newspapers report on sentences that they suggest are too lenient. Often they quote victims who feel that the enormity of the crime is not sufficiently reflected in the sentence. But
While I am departing again from my usual reluctance to comment on particular cases, the case of Ryan Taylor is both appalling and instructive. Ryan Taylor is a serving prisoner who appears to have been brutally attacked in prison and gravely
Too soft? So what would be the right punishment? (Part II)
Harm is probably the first consideration when thinking about what someone deserves, but there is much more to it. We need to know how far the offender is to blame for that harm – their responsibility, their culpability. Most people
Too soft? So what would be the right punishment? (Part I)
We think we know when a sentence is too lenient. And sometimes (less often maybe) the news draws our attention to a case where the punishment looks like it may be too much. But what would be ‘the right’ sentence
Are sentences in general too lenient?
Many people think that levels of sentencing are, in general, too low. But where does our knowledge about sentencing come from? Few people claim to be knowledgeable about the usual levels of punishment awarded by courts. Not many people pay all
Excessive punishment shames us all
Bryan Stevenson says: I represent people on death row. It’s interesting, this question of the death penalty. In many ways, we’ve been taught to think that the real question is, do people deserve to die for the crimes they’ve committed?
What is remorse and why does it matter?
This blog will rarely discuss particular cases. When dreadful crimes hit the headlines, there are (too) many opinions on offer and emotions are high. It is rarely a good time to see what can be learnt about the origins of