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Penology (from the Latin poena, "punishment") is a section of criminology that deals with the philosophy and practice of various societies in their attempts to repress criminal activities, and satisfy public opinion via an appropriate treatment regime for persons convicted of criminal offenses.


Penology is concerned with the effectiveness of those social processes devised and adopted for the prevention of crime, via the repression or inhibition of criminal intent via the fear of punishment. The study of penology therefore deals with the treatment of prisoners and the subsequent rehabilitation of convicted criminals. It also encompasses aspects of probation (rehabilitation of offenders in the community) as well as penitentiary science relating to the secure detention and retraining of offenders committed to secure institutions.


Penology concerns many topics and theories, including those concerning prisons (Prison reform, Prisoner abuse, Prisoners' rights, and Recidivism), as well as theories of the purposes of punishment (such as Deterrence, Rehabilitation, Retribution, and Utilitarianism).


Contemporary penology concerns itself mainly with criminal rehabilitation and prison management. The word seldom applies to theories and practices of punishment in less formal environments such as parenting, school and workplace correctional measures.


Historical theories of punishment were based on the notion that fearful consequences would discourage potential offenders. Example of this principle can be found in the Draconian law of ancient Ancient Greece and the Bloody Code which persisted in Renaissance England, when (at various times) capital punishment was prescribed for over 200 offenses. Similarly, certain hudud offenses under Sharia hadith tradition may incur fearful penalties.


Modern theories of the punishment and rehabilitation of offenders are broadly based on ancient scriptural texts of the Christian Bible and the Moslem Qur'an, which principles only reappeared in Europe some time after the publication of a seminal pamphlet "On Crimes and Punishments" published by Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria in 1764. It is based on the notion of proportionality. Previously, (for example, under England's Bloody Code) the penalty of theft had been the same regardless of the value stolen, giving rise to the English expression "It is as well to be hanged for a sheep or a lamb"


Subsequent development of the ideas of Beccaria made non-lethal punishment more socially acceptable. Consequently convicted prisoners had to be re-integrated into society when their punishment was complete.

In Europe, and many westernized legal systems, criminal punishments now tend to be in accordance with a popular theory once expressed by Martin Luther King around 1958: "Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love...Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man (e.g. our enemies), but to win his friendship and understanding."

Penologists have consequently evolved occupational and psychological education programs for offenders detained in prison, and a range of community service and probation orders which entail guidance and aftercare of the offender within the community.


The importance of inflicting some measure of punishment on those persons who breach the law is however maintained in order to maintain social order and to moderate public outrage which might provoke appeals for cruel vengeance. European penalties can only be imposed by a criminal court and include fines, damages, unpaid compensatory work, and mandatory training as well as physical detention

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PENOLOGY (Lat. poena, punishment), the modern name given to penitentiary science, that concerned with the processes devised and adopted for the repression and prevention of crime. (See CRIME; CRIMINOLOGY; PRISON; JUVENILE OFFENDERS; RECJDIVISM, &C.)


<< Penobscot

George Sholto Gordon Douglas-Pennant, 2nd baron Penrhyn >>








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