Perhapsone of the greatest and most complex social dilemmas has been the processingand treatment of the social deviant.
Members of any society who do not followrules and regulations pose a natural threat to the group. Although thetraditional Auburn-style prison is perhaps the most common image representingpunishment in India, dealing with offenders has a somewhat horrible past. Priorto the 19th century confinement was viewed as a means to an end, rather than anend in and of itself. Through pain and public humiliation, offenders wereexpected to atone for their social sins, sins committed against God, a monarchand society. The term punishment has been referred to as ‘crime handling’although its meaning is restricted to measures which are deliberately intendedto inflict pain on an offender in response to an offence that he or she hascommitted.
However the infliction of pain is not universally accepted as a goalof punishment. The Enlightenment brought about great change in the applicationof punishment. Punishment is usually seen by modern theorists of the prison ascontaining a number of different elements. These are the deterrence,rehabilitation, incapacitation and retribution.
Rehabilitation or reformationis the process whereby the criminal is brought to face up to his/her crimes andadjusts his personality in such a way as to make it less likely that they willreoffend. Retribution refers to the pain of punishment that is delivered to theprisoner. It announces the fact that the criminal justice system delivers ajust measure of pain to those who break the law. Punishment also reinforced thevalues of the wider society which stressed that all should work, and shouldalso all fit in to social hierarchies, also contained within families whichprovide the basic structure of authority in early modern society. The dominanceof a progressive and scientific view of the penal system led to a view of thehistory of the prison that saw it as an inevitable progress towards a morehumane, rational and effective system. Prisons in the 19th century may havebeen places of ill health and corruption, but they allowed the inmates tointeract and to maintain a sort of human society with an often surprisingdegree of integration with the world outside the prison.