Signs of the Times

["Constructive Punishment," from Good Words, Atlanta, Ga.]

We may sum up the situation in the assertion that punishment not prompted by love and intelligence is a crime against human nature; and a crime against human nature is an unpardonable sin. Punishment in the right spirit is salvation; it is damnation in the wrong. The existing system of dealing with criminals is still based upon the idea of punishment; and, in theory, is correct. But unless it can be shown that in practice it is animated and directed not only by intelligence, but by love, it is wrong and a failure. Punishments inflicted upon prisoners in any other spirit than that of love, are inflicted in an evil spirit, the spirit of cruelty, revenge, tyranny, egotism, brutal selfishness. It is a terrible mistake to give absolute power of punishment into the hands of any human being who cannot be trusted to punish only in love and with intelligence. How many jail officials meet this test? Yes, some do; but what proportion do they bear to the whole? And yet every jail is a place of punishment, both of mind and body. The law allows it. Some day the law will forbid it. . . . It is only those whom the Lord loveth that He chasteneth.

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March 10, 1923

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