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MetamorphosisHow to Transform Punishment in America$
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Robert A. Ferguson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300230833

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300230833.001.0001

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Introduction: The Need for New Answers

Introduction: The Need for New Answers

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction: The Need for New Answers
Source:
Metamorphosis
Author(s):

Robert A. Ferguson

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300230833.003.0001

This introductory chapter argues that legally sanctioned theories of retribution have allowed vindictiveness to flourish everywhere in sentencing and penal systems. The established forms of punishment are elemental in two senses of the word. First, they are near reflexes in thought. Second, in their intractability, they explain why a new approach must correct mistreatment in a broken system. Only transformation in the forms themselves, change from the inside out, can answer these problems. The chapter cites and agrees with the Roman poet Ovid's concept of metamorphosis for two reasons. It agrees that punishment must seek a more balanced transformation, and it argues that a better understanding of human nature in its active parts can adjust that balance toward healing instead of hurting.

Keywords:   punishment, retribution, metamorphosis, Ovid, vindictiveness, penal systems, sentencing

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