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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Penal Codes: The Government's Dos and Don'ts

The penal code...can be read as a kind of Sears Roebuck catalogue of norms; it lists things considered reprehensible, and tells us, by the degree of punishment, roughly--very roughly--how reprehensible they are. Groups that dominate society display their power most brutally and nakedly in the police patrols, riot squads, and prisons; but power expresses itself also in the penal codes and in the process of labeling some values and behaviors as deviant, abnormal, dangerous--criminal, in other words.

Lawrence M. Friedman, Crime and Punishment in American History, 1993

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