Re: prison

From: Frank Rafaelsen (rafael@nvg.ntnu.no)
Date: Wed 25 Feb 1998 - 13:03:07 EET


Disclaimer: What I say is valid for medieval europe. I know nothing of
prisons in other times/places.

Although it is true that prisons were rare, they did exist. But keeping
someone locked up was not seen as punishment only as containment. If there
were people you needed to keep track of you threw them in the dungeon, but
criminals were punished in higly ritalized torture ceremonies.

> Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 15:58:49 +1100
> From: "Michael O'Brien" <mob@bayswater.schnet.edu.au>
> Subject: Pent Ridge
>
<removing cool scenario hooks>

> (BTW, the Byzantines thought mutilation a *merciful* alternative to
> execution. The criminal, deprived of nose/tongue/hands/eyes/feet/whatever
> was the fashion would have ample time to pray for forgiveness of their evil
> deeds, learn humility and prepare themselves for the hereafter while they
> slowly starved to death in a life of destitute beggary. If they were killed
> straightaway, they would have had no opportunity to repent and would
> therefore be condemned to hell for eternity!)

In europe mutilation and torture was a result of the view of evidence &
truth and the need for a confession. There were categories of different
types of evidence and rules for combining them (by combini two half
evidence one got a complete evidence etc). This with the fact that a 'half
evidence' made you 'half-guilty' explains what seems like a paradox today:
mixing investigation and punishment as seen in the torture ritual. At the
same time you were never 'realy guilty' unless you confessed. The torture
gave you an opportunity to clear your name if you were innocent, and if
you were guilty well then you deserved it.

Frank Rafaelsen
Homo Ludens

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