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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 10. 24 May 1972

Reform or Punish?

Reform or Punish?

The "punitive obsession" is not something of which Playfair sees behind all attempts at prison reform right down to the present day. It arises through the combined effects of a misplaced faith in the deterrent as a means of preventing crime, and society's desire for revenge on criminals. The result of the obsession is that, any attempt to reform is always dogged by a desire to punish. Because the basic motive behind all penal techniques is the desire to punish, what has happened over the entire history of penal legislation is that when one system of incarcetation has shown itself entirely useless as a means of reforming criminals, it is not scrapped, and a fresh attempt to reform made, but it is made more punitive, in the hope that its deterent effect will be able to play the role that its reformative effect has not