Our societies have inherited certain axioms which the passage of time has conditioned our conscience into merely accepting without question. The fact that such propositions have become deeply ingrained in our structures have left them immune from any reflections or deliberations on our part. The concept of punishment is one such concept that dominates the structures and social systems of humanity. The concept of punishment is a charade that is presumed to effectuate certain results whilst in reality only achieving exactly one purpose, i.e. satisfying the vindictive nature of humans. It has gratuitously usurped and commandeered the notions of justice precisely only because it has provided humans with a fake illusion that accomplishes absolutely nothing.
Punishment is a concept that runs opposite to the ideals of enlightened thought. It is a notion that responds to misdeed with misdeed. It is a notion that attempts to accomplish justice based on a fake and warped interpretation of justice ― an interpretation that has not been examined or studied but rather inherited by tradition and assumed to be true. The vindictive ethos does not undo the damage that the wrong-doer has inflicted. It only reinforces the blind animalistic tendencies of the human species while, in the process, stalling any progress that could be made. There is no reason why countering misdeed by the imposition of further misdeed should eclipse a more enlightened and effective approach that focuses on prevention, reconciliation, and understanding. This has, up to the present day, not been the prevailing social philosophy due to the axioms inherited by society.
The intrusion of punishment into our social systems is based upon an unfounded proposition that the individual is a responsible moral agent. The same line of thought does not usually extend to our animal neighbours, which society regards as incapable of conscious will. The same line of thought does not also extend to natural disasters, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, neither does it extend to viruses and cancer cells, seen only as blind vehicles decreed to cause what they cause. Much of what has underpinned the lack of retrospection as far as the concept of punishment is concerned is the pure assertion that a human wrongdoer acted upon a fully conscious will. There is no reason why human behaviour should dogmatically not be thought of as a manifestation of antecedant physical causes in the same way that an earthquake or an agent of disease would normally thought to be. To have full ignorance of these considerations but yet advance a notion of justice that is nothing but a disguised form of vengeance that, in reality, only seeks to assuage primal instincts rather than engender progress is the highest form of short-sight.
The imposition of retributive punishment in social codes has given the state unmitigated power to subjugate its citizens. Retributive justice is a classist form of justice. Data shows that communities with low socio-economic status are correlated with increased crime but that investing in said communities reduces crime. A blind criminal justice system set up by the rich privileged class does not take into account how environments mould human behaviour. It is blind and totally ignorant of what possible circumstances could have caused some people to do certain things. A state that does not invest in its communities but only seeks to mass incarcerate and punish reaffirms existing inequality. It is a state that seeks to subjugate rather than rehabilitate. It is a state that only seeks to abuse its power rather than to achieve progress.
A justice system based upon punishment is a blind ignorant system. It has been shown not to work or achieve what it claims to achieve. It entrenches into society a vindictive disposition that does away with the notions of redemption and rehabilitation. It presumes that misdeed must be met with misdeed. It presumes that retribution is the natural objectively true response to misdeed. It is not based on reason or evidence but parochial notions of human behaviour. Society needs to move forwards towards an enlightened approach where all the punitive elements of the justice system that are built only to inflict damage and pain on the wrong-doer are purged and where elements that are based on prevention and rehabilitation are upheld.