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Therapy, Not Punishment Essay

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Therapy, Not Punishment

Problems with crime have always been a concern to society. There are many different ideas about what causes it and even more ideas about how to stop it. Dr. Karl Menninger believes that our current prison system is not adequately addressing the motivation behind crime. In his article "Therapy, Not Punishment", Menninger says of the old prison system, "In its place should go a quiet, dignified, therapeutic programÉ" (544). He sets forth the claim of policy that criminals need to be treated with professional therapy. I don't think an introduction could be more clear than this.

Menninger's ideas are directed toward a wide audience of generally law-abiding citizens. This article first appeared in Harper's Magazine, a general-interest magazine that provides collections of essays and fiction. The type of person who would read a magazine such as this would probably be an educated person who is interested in the affairs of the world around them. Menninger reveals his impression of the audience in his introduction, where he says, "And from these offenses the average citizen, including the reader, is deterred by quite different restraints" (537). Armed with this vision of his audience, he presents his argument in a logical, authoritative tone that invites the reader to make the inevitable conclusion that Menninger is right.

Menninger begins to support his claim of policy by demonstrating the failures of the present penal system. He states, "Today it is no secret that our official, prison-threat theory of crime control is an utter failure" (537). He illustrates this assertion by pointing out that in England when pocket picking was punishable by hanging, pickpockets targeted the crowd that gathered to witness ...


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... a solution to crime. This method prepares the reader well for Menninger's proposals.

This logical progression through his views of the prison system is a large part of Menninger's clear, understandable tone. By keeping to his topic and remaining organized, Menninger contributes to his own credibility. He also draws credibility from his credentials and often refers to the psychiatric community as "we". Menninger wraps up his argument just as logically as it began by saying that society must make positive moves to rehabilitate criminals. His logical style and expertise provide an effective argument and reveal a well-planned solution to a serious problem.Cedric probably needed to mention that Menninger is often sarcastic and insults his opposition at least once. It is important to comment on what isn't working for a writer as well as what he does that is effective.


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