Contemporary Issues in Western Penology
It is no secret that the development of penology, as a science, is closely connected with the historical process of the formation of the state and society. The concept of penology arose in Western civilization at the junction of two great socio-historical periods – the era of feudalism and the era of capitalism. The decline of feudalism gave rise to a new form of social control – secular nation-states, which relied on policing, criminal justice, and prisons to maintain order.
The Industrial Revolution and the growth of capitalism led to the mass production of goods and the rise of a new class of workers – the industrial proletariat. The working conditions in factories were often dangerous and unhealthy, and workers were paid very low wages. As a result, many workers turned to crime in order to make a living. In response, penologists began to advocate for the rehabilitation of criminals, rather than simply punishing them.
However, in recent years there has been a shift away from rehabilitation and towards punishment in Western penology. This shift is due to a number of factors, including the decline of Rehabilitation, the changing nature of social control, and the rise of the New Penology.
2. Contemporary Western Penology Issues
2.1 The Decline of Rehabilitation
The decline of rehabilitation as a goal of Western penology can be traced back to the 1970s. At this time, many Western countries began to experience an increase in crime rates. In response, policymakers began to focus on ways to prevent crime, rather than rehabilitate offenders.
One way that policymakers attempted to prevent crime was by increasing prison sentences. The idea was that if offenders were given longer sentences, they would be less likely to reoffend when they were released. However, there is little evidence to support this claim. In fact, studies have shown that longer prison sentences actually lead to higher recidivism rates (i.e., offenders are more likely to reoffend).
Another way that policymakers attempted to prevent crime was by increasing surveillance and expanding the reach of the criminal justice system. For example, many countries introduced mandatory sentencing laws, which required offenders to be sentenced to prison for certain crimes (regardless of their individual circumstances). In addition, countries began to implement Three Strikes Laws, which require offenders who have committed three serious offenses to be sentenced to life in prison (regardless of their individual circumstances).
The introduction of mandatory sentencing laws and Three Strikes Laws has led to a dramatic increase in incarceration rates in Western countries. For example, in the United States, the incarceration rate increased from 220 per 100,000 people in 1980 to 716 per 100,000 people in 2013 (an increase of 225%). This increase is largely due to policies that focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation.
2. 2 The Changing Nature of Social Control
The decline of rehabilitation as a goal of Western penology can also be explained by changes in the nature of social control. In previous centuries, Western societies were controlled primarily by powerful elites (e.g., kings, queens, and nobles). These elites used various means to maintain their power, including violence, intimidation, and coercion.
However, over time Western societies have become increasingly controlled by institutions (e.
The changing nature of social control can be explained, in part, by the rise of the post-industrial society. In previous centuries, Western societies were primarily agrarian or industrial. However, in recent years the economies of Western countries have shifted away from agriculture and manufacturing and towards service industries. As a result, Western societies have become increasingly reliant on knowledge and information.
The changing nature of social control has also been shaped by the rise of IQ tests. In the early 20th century, IQ tests were introduced as a way to measure intelligence. However, these tests have often been used to justify discrimination against certain groups of people (e.g., minorities and women). For example, in the United States, IQ tests were used to justify the segregation of schools and the placement of minorities in lower-quality schools.
The changing nature of social control has also been influenced by the rise of secularism. In previous centuries, Western societies were largely controlled by religion. However, in recent years there has been a dramatic increase in secularism (i.e., the belief that religion should not play a role in government or society). This change can be seen in the declining popularity of organized religion and the increasing support for separation of church and state.
2. 3 The New Penology
The new penology is a theory that has emerged in recent years to explain the shift away from rehabilitation and towards punishment in Western penology. This theory is based on the work of intellectual historians like Michel Foucault and Norbert Elias.
According to the new penology, Western societies have become increasingly focused on crime prevention and security. As a result, policymakers have become more interested in using surveillance and biometrics to track and monitor citizens. In addition, policymakers have become more willing to use prison as a tool for social control.
The new penology has been criticized for its overly pessimistic view of human nature. Critics argue that this theory paints a picture of humanity as inherently evil and dangerous. In addition, critics argue that this theory fails to take into account the importance of rehabilitation and reintegration.
In conclusion, it is clear that there are a number of contemporary issues facing Western penology. These issues include the decline of rehabilitation, the changing nature of social control, and the rise of the new penology. However, it is important to remember that penology is an evolving science and that these issues are not permanent. With time, and with the help of dedicated criminologists, these issues can be overcome.