Critical Evaluation

A Critical Evaluation of The Books on Criminology Theory in Prison Area

Summary of the books

The books taken here for the study are the ones like “Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Davis (2003) and “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison” by Foucalt (1991).

“Are Prisons Obsolete?”

The book concentrates on the needs for punishments for the criminal as per the rule of law and its applications to make the people get the needs for such ideas in the criminal justice systems (Davis, 2003). Hence the books intends to give the brief of how the criminal justice systems should work to give the best of benefits to the processes of criminal justice systems where the issues of beneficial outcomes are concerned which would make the best out of the prevailing criminal justice systems and the prison institutions to be best used for the needs for correctional steps for the criminals to make them good citizens again when they go back to the society. According to the first chapter of the book, it is stated that before awarding an individual with punishment, one should try to find out the mental condition of the accused for the occurrence of the crime. This would help in measuring the intensity of the punishment that need to be considered aligning with the extent of the offense done. This is the basis of the criminal justice system as the prison-like institutions that are meant to give the best for the systems for the best of business gains concerned which focus on rectification of the criminal behavior among the charges people in the prison systems. 

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The books take a humanitarian approach to make sure that the criminals are not put into physical pain or torture of any kind so that they get the needful state’s care to be able to get the best of treatment which would make them to retrospect on what they have done in place of tortured which may have an adverse effect on the person to be more dehumanizing the process which may have an adverse effect on the criminals. So the intents of the crime and criminals are to be understood for the best of prison system deliveries which makes the best use of the system to rectify the criminal ideas to get a good healthy social person out of the system. Davis (2003) observes that the punishments need to accommodate the mental state of the criminal before delivering the punishments since the reasons for the crime are important to be known and addressed. However, the reformation of the criminals are pertinent and are observed to deal with criminals along with offenses they have done in perspective to use the best of the prison systems to make them have the best of treatment for such crimes so that the person coming out of the system are competent people in the society (Davis, 2003). So the reformation with the examples is highlighted in his book so that they don’t feel out of the society once they come out but rather have the normal life with people with empathy around. If the person coming out of the system finds themselves ostracized and marginalized the chances for the same to go back into crime are high. The view of Davis is that the anti-prison movement in the US is well-desired move like the anti-death penalty for the criminals in the systems which would make the punishments for the crimes to change as per the needs of time and place to accommodate the new reforms into the systems which it is meant for, that is corrections.

“Discipline and Punish”

The book suggests that the objective of the punishment is based on the reformatory measures which makes the people refrain from illegal activities meant to harm others or themselves in the process or have a sane aspect of the criminal manner to be reduced and not make criminals who come into the reformation systems with the best of care to improve their mental and social balance to have a good life ahead. People do everything to make sure that the people coming out of the systems are good people with no malice in their hearts and minds to be doing crime again (Bondeson, 2017). The objective is to understand the cause of the crime and thus give the best of social and self-control for a good life. However, in some cases, the criminals come out to become more blatant in committing crimes with impunity which is a failure of the prison systems of the nation which should have been reformatory in place of the opposite. The correction of an accused by awarding them with punishment by taking in account of criminology has been highlighted in the book. The book has described in a detail manner the imposition of morality within the society. The system’s codification associated to criminal justice could also be gained from the book, and guidance provided to justice to suffice sentences is also stated as a part of natural justice.

Foucalt (1991) observed that the criminology can be detailed in a proper manner where the significance of the criminal offenses are been followed properly for the best of social justice and use of the system with objective of creating the best of people for the society who were misled or are misguided with efficient criminal justice system use for the cause of natural justice for the people within the systems (Brooks, 2019).

Thus the suggestion that comes out is that the social significance for the criminal justice systems is of great importance which makes the identification of the crime and thus gives the justice systems a good outcome that suites the motto of the justice systems in the first place. The terms of natural justice, safety security of the people have taken in the determinants of the punishments and thus this is key for the delivery of proportionate delivery of justice. However, the observation of Foucalt shows the complexity of the laws and its various burdens that have not made a lot of progress in making the prison systems of the US to be a competent as it should be. The idea is to get the criminal to find a better life and solution for his or her desperation (Foucault, 2012). Hence, the justice deliveries may have the considerations while the delivery of justice however the implementation of the needful rectification facilitation is not well researched or applied. The constant determination of the security for the people and good observation of the trends is a great way to prevent crime in the first place as they say Prevention is better than cure. If the systems of the establishments are not well established to identify the crime and criminals beforehand by studying the suspect, the crime can be avoided and the criminal may be given a chance to rethink and recover from the trauma of the case to commit such act (Davis, 2003). The efforts to decrease crime need a drastic change of established systems but the novel idea of cure from criminal ideas and nature can be made to be considered by the offenders which serve the purpose of the justice system the best.

The operational part like the preventive steps to stop crime in the first place is a good aspect that has been made well in this book. The avoidance of the concerns is the way that the surveillance to the reference observed in the individualism of people in a community and the surveillance of the suspected actions and a constant monitoring as well as if need be to have additional support to prevent crime or to not produce more criminals is the best way the justice systems may work. This is a very unorthodox outlook with a good deal of social introspection into such derivations. So the methods in such cases too are a good way to serve the crime-free community with well-supported networking and cooperation of the people. The author has very beautifully describes their observation on the context of prison abolition movement and has given instances from the anti-prison movement in the United States, thinking that this observation will be able to motivate readers for thinking of a more stronger movement.


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Panoptican is framed as a metaphor used by Michael Foucault for exploring the association between the system under the control of the society with individual reacting within situations of discipline, and the concept of power-knowledge. According to the author the concept of power-knowledge is derived from the observation of others. It helps in marking the transition to a power of discipline with the record of every event and the supervision of every movement.  The outcome of this surveillance is accepted docility and regulation.  The author says the achievement of suitable behavior is gained through the attribute of entire surveillance through panoptic discipline inclusive of a population for the golabalisation of the reality. Foucault considers that the exercise of power has to be more refined and more clarified within the centralized power of decision making and the individual concerned for be awarded or punished. This would enable the occasioning of the occurrence of the police force, pyramid of bureaucracy as well as the hierarchy of administration.

Similarities and Differences

These books concentrate on the ways the criminals behave inside the prison areas in relation to Criminology so far the Prisons are concerned in the ways of their modus Operandi. The books have taken in various books and studies to compile the needful objectives of Criminal Justice systems to make the needful observations for the books. The book “Discipline and Punish” concentrates on the necessity of the prison systems in the days like today while the implications for the best of the outcomes for the system to give the needful benefits to society is explained in steps and ways as strategies to make the best out of it in “Are Prisons Obsolete” would imply the best of standards and measures for the needs for such institutions. The idea of reformation is to make the people a better person once the system has taken them in for the resolution of their problems that lead to crimes. This is the resolution or the idea that the prison systems undertake for the long term or the objective of the system is. Nevertheless, the objectives and the use of the same with efficiency needs a detailed study of the systems, the ways which makes the prison system to gain the needful outcomes over the infliction of punishment but rather take contingence of the needs which lead to it and eliminate the source so that the best of reformation objectives of the prison system and the criminal justice systems are been followed. Hence the effective use of the criminology theories and the best of the outcomes from the suggested books are well delivered to suggest the needs and steps which would make the crimes and criminals to get the needful attention to become socialized again for the best of social integration of the criminals that the prison systems are meant for (Foucault, 2012). So the reduction of the crime and the rule of law are key for such criminals to be not formed in the first place.

Social Impact

The influence of the society or the community in any part of the globe is majorly responsible for the creation of criminals where the basis of doing a crime naturally doesn’t occur. However, this is a hypothetical position which both the books had in common. Hence the way the people and their position or the social care needs are a part of the society that the criminals come from. The way to open the eyes of a community is not been done then the days ahead would give the criminal justice a hard time. The reasons that make a criminal work in the way that they do has to be focused upon in the first place to irradiate any chance for such to happen again. The lessons have to be learned and the values of socially accepted behaviour among the various generations have to be dispersed (Naz and Ibrahim, 2019). However, the case of Californian Society voting for building prisons in the agricultural property was an eye-opener where the society as a whole wish to have jobs by imprisoning people over producing the land for social wells, like agriculture. Even in many cases as it suggests the laws were determined and crooked by a few influential to have their ways out without any punitive actions. These can be said as social malice that the justice departments are plagued with. The outcome values of the reformation in the systems via the way to not have crime in the first place are a way to reduce crime in the first place. The cases are handled efficiently so that the efficient approaches that can be taken for the best of the criminal justice system are commending offenses. 

The functioning of the criminal justice system has been the core of the functional system which concerned by the punitive measures where one can also benefit from the systems in place to rectify and give a criminal a social space and needful; community support to come back to the mainstream leading a life of a good citizen. Hence, the context of the derivations from the study is the way the people have made the case for the best of the purposed proposal for the analysis of the social aspects to prevent the case of the cases which are best suited for the approach that is sustainable and long term in its offerings. Therefore, the book gives a social role to the society to make the crime and punishment concepts to be dissolved with better measure within the society to prevent such an attitude to harm in the place. The making of the functional approaches for the business is made to make the offenders have the best results of a crime-free community which is the basis of the criminal justice system (Foucault, 2012). The books have advocated the application of the social level integrations and changes to prevent the crime in the first place. Say, if there are guns in a society there are chances that it may be used for a criminal purpose instead of defense or hunting. Hence, the consideration of the social aspect, the individual scenario with each offender and the people in concern for the best of people’s good and awarding of the punishments which are meant for the best of delivery and make sure that the crime and punishments have those aspects in mind. Hence, the punishment that the systems give has the basics of the adoption of a crime-free, peaceful society. Hence the prevention aspect is given a great deal of introspection.

The failure at the community levels with the California case is clear that the systems have not been able to give the society any responsibility for its attitudes and behavior that makes criminals in the first place. The awarding of the punishments is such that it has to make sure that the role of the criminal mindset from the citizens not to perpetrate. The state of law and order is based on the way the society keeps silent seeing oppression going on without a word or faith on the Police may be a big reason such crimes grow till the criminal gathers enough courage to commit the crimes. The system is to address the very basics of the criminal justice system from its rots to eliminate the reasons to have the prisons in the first place.

Prison Assessments

The criminals once sentenced by the judiciary are sent in facilities that have all the needed security and surveillance measures that keeps the punished under surveillance and in isolation. The facilities have improved with the days and have been used as the place where the improvement of the behavior in a significant manner has been achieved. The detention facilities with high levels of security for the people either in detention or in a cell with inmates depends on the gravity of the crime and the decisions of the justice systems that the prisons executes accordingly. Here Foucalt (1991) suggests that the past period of punishment in the prison systems had a lot of ‘body punishments’ which were terrible and was to create an atmosphere of fear among the rest in the society. However, the legal systems evolved with time and made its practice of taking away the liberty by making the body been under detention. Hence the liberty of the criminal, if proved is taken away (Foucault, 2012). Nevertheless, the options for legal recourse for the person charged as a criminal too is been given but until the innocence is proved once charged the liberty to enjoy the economic benefits and rights are curtailed till the person is found not guilty. The books gives an insight of the civil rights and human rights in such a context where the justice and punishments are concerned. The English philosopher was the creator of the Panopticon ides to use the prison population for the good of the society and make the people in the prison is used as utility providers for the society.  The observation of Davis was that the philosophy worked very well with the people who were imprisoned since their ability to works as a team; compassion for the people in the society with a strict monitoring had a great positive effect on the inmates of prison (Davis, 2003). The discipline and compassion imprinted in the minds of criminals in the prison system has offered the problem resolution for the best of criminal justice goals.

The prison systems are adopting this philosophy for the best application of justice systems goals which is to give back the society a good citizen who was mislead by the desperations to harm someone or steal from others. Hence, the consciences of the human inside a criminal were exposed to the people in need and thus get the affection for fellow human beings to be able to have the best of effects of the panpticon to be well laid and demonstrated.

The Prison’s background

The ancient laws were too harsh and gave no man to have a chance to reform hence the capital punishment or banishment for life were the justice those were prevailing. Then came in laws on which decisions were been made with the rise of detention centers or imprisonment for the offenders to have a more humane approach in the US post the American Revolution (Davis, 2003). Hence, its important to understand the way the prison systems developed with time and evolved to what it is now. The options that justice departments give are based on values of Human Rights and reformation of the criminal considering the one as a human being first. The reforms took time and a lot of things to happen which made it what it is today. The US legislations and laws were previously very cruel to its black population. The revolutions of the US criminal system thus evolved to be what it is today with the idea of reformation of the criminal at its core (Garland, 2018). The system previously was for the male criminals only which then transformed itself to accommodate the women too if they have committed any crime which was another reform in itself of a male dominated prison system. The monotony of a domination ended to have more new additions to be in for the best of detention of the criminals as per sex so as to make sure that women are not taken over by other men both in Guards and he male population with segregations. The change adopted the female guards as a part of this process or evolution which made a lot of good values to come into the prison systems of the US.

According to Foucault prisons are considered to be a place of rigoros regulations, as it is the duty of the guard to see everything. It involves the regulation of the slightest movement of the body as well as position. The author doesn’t consider prisons to be unique and thinks it is just a location within the society of discipline where we are bound to live. The author finds nothing to be very astonishing about prisons, as to him the schools, the factories, banks, offices are the resemblance of prisons. However, the respect for the society and the ways that the criminology theories are being applied in the society is prime to make society a safe place for the innocents to live without fear or oppression. Hence to maintain the law and order is prime to keep the prison systems not to exist however there are elements that are disruptive and does things out of the sane control of rule of law for which the prison systems are there to rectify them and make the best out of the rule of laws. The author thinks that the breaking of law is not any accident but the avoidance of imperfection. Areas in a society where laws can be broken are subjected to the arrangement setting of profitable areas where law is able to be violated and ignored.

 The technology too made a good difference with time to be adequate to make the confinements to be hygienic and well suited for a detainee. Further the age factor came in where the systems had separate facilities for the adolescent or non-adults separately with a continuous monitoring of the misguided children’s get back to the basics of the things that they need to develop into good adults is education and sports which may help them to be out of the crime or such intents in the adult life ahead (Ralston, 2016). Hence, the prisons systems evolved with the justice department’s consolidation of the rule of law and justice applications with time. The humane approach to the criminal justice systems came with the prison reforms and with a well developed segregation but the actual values of such institutions are yet to be realized to have a crime or criminal free society which would make the prisons obsolete anyways.

Future Recommendations

The aforesaid dilemma of the criminal justice systems and the way the delivery of the needful benefits into the systems of the criminal justice is of great value to the process overall. Hence the process of decriminalizing the society with its basic seeing very strong and deep rooted to make a child be a good citizen and demolish the cause of committing a crime like affection for all, empathy like values needs to instill for the overall benefits of the system. The supermax prison systems of the day are such that it has no element of the proper exercise of the needful value instillation for the criminals to understand and do no harm in the future and behave in accordance to the constitution. The crime committed by the prisoner has to be analyzed from a pshyco-social basis to get the best treatment of the tendencies that they are charged of with a specialist of the concerns is needed to be added with the system which ensures the proper counseling and also make the natural talents of the prisoners be converted into skills for good potentials and possibility building of the greater good of the society in the long terms which would make the cause of detention by a society made laws for one of its own to be well executed for the best outcomes (Foucault, 2012). The cares for the prisoners have improved however a lot needs to be done. The basic human instincts are to be arrested to make the criminal understand the need to reform where the processes can be made specialized for the one to get them back to the mainstream. The reformation of the prison systems have adopted a lot of more people but have done little to actually made any difference to the systems. However there is still a loophole in the system which may lead a person to suffer inside a prison for the cause which means nothing to them but a legal complexity. Hence, the systems change to let the people their rights of “Innocent till proved guilty” has to be well incorporated so that the people with intents to harm or sabotage are helped to stay out of the facilities that is to refrain the physical and economic rights. Hence the needed changes are to come in and continue the value behind the social justice system as a part of criminal justice systems and achievements of civil rights integrated for the best outcomes.

The Arguments presented in the books on prison

The books have many commonalities as well as differences at the same time. The book of Discipline and punish is based on the idea of the imprisonment by taking away the economic and physical movement rights from the criminals. This is a classic example of the ways to make people have a concentration camp to be there to check and balance the crimes in the community. On the other hand the Prison are Obsolete deduces the idea that the prisons are not of any use for the core value of development of the person so that the reason of the prison is not been applied. The both books concentrates on the value of the justice system however the approach of the treatment of the criminals are been challenged in each case based on well argued value of the criminal justice systems and human rights (Newman, 2017). The derivations from the books shows the perspectives that are so different in approach which has made the values of the justice deliveries are well kept. Nevertheless, the concept of prison is a concern that the books differs with each other. The deduction of the studies of the books shows the outlook taken towards the criminal justice system. The counter systems have given the books a varied view which makes them different to consider the systems in different perspective of prison. However, the check and balance to maintain the social apparatus remains the same where the social care and peer reviews for the reporting anything in reference to punishments for the crime to teach one when they are young. The law’s abidance from the very core of the society making the crime rates go low or having a good citizenship guidelines taught to the people in mass for a safe society is the value looked forward to. Hence, the humanity of the systems got a good inward look in such ideas that may be implemented for the best of justice promotion to serve the cause.


Bondeson, U., 2017. Prisoners in prison societies. Abingdon: Routledge.

Brooks, T. ed., 2019. Shame Punishment. Abingdon: Routledge.

Davis, A. 2003. Are Prisons Obsolete?

Foucault, M., 2012. Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. Vintage.

Garland, D., 2018. Punishment and welfare: A history of penal strategies (Vol. 29). Quid Pro Books.

Naz, A.A. and Ibrahim, A.S., 2019. Towards the Reformation of the Criminal Justice System. Routledge Handbook of South Asian Criminology.

Newman, G., 2017. The punishment response. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ralston, A.G., 2016. Punishment, reformation and prevention: changing attitudes to juvenile crime in mid-nineteenth century Britain. In Opening Schools and Closing Prisons (pp. 17-39). Abingdon: Routledge.

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