Letter: Punishment can redeem

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The Independent Online
IN HIS excellent article on punishment ('We have confused punishment with revenge', 30 January), Neal Ascherson nevertheless omits an important aspect - its redemptive quality. Unless a wrongdoer comes to accept that his punishment is fair, just and deserved, he will never feel the freedom that goes with having 'paid one's debt to society'. This acceptance is thus the first step on the road to rehabilitation.

I agree that in many cases acceptance is absent, even though society feels that a certain punishment is fair and right. But if we cannot find suitable means of leading the wrongdoer to recognition of the wrong behind his crime, then punishment becomes merely a matter of containment and deterrence, worthy and essential motives, but in themselves inadequate.

Michael G Jones

Ferndale, Mid Glamorgan