Chapter 23 » 23.94

Friends and state authority

Crime and punishment

The terrible sufferings of our forebears in the prisons of the seventeenth century have given us as a people a special interest in the management of prisons and the treatment of crime. George Fox protested to the judges of his day ‘concerning their putting men to death for cattle and money and small matters’; and laid before them ‘what a hurtful thing it was that prisoners should lie so long in jail’; showing how ‘they learned wickedness from one another in talking of their bad deeds’.

There is, however, much work still to be done, in creating a right understanding of the nature and causes of crime, and in emphasising the need for redemptive treatment rather than retributive punishment. Society is in measure responsible for the criminal, a fact which emphasises the duty of meeting moral failure by redemptive care. Evil can only be finally overcome by good.

1911; 1925; 1959; 1994

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