Guy Casadamont, Pierrette Poncela

There Are No "Fair" Sentences Publication date : March 1, 2004

Parliamentary members recently decried conditions in French prisons as "shameful for the Republic". There is now a growing feeling that in societies that claim to be developed punishment should be made "meaningful". But is this possible?
Such was not the lesson taught by Michel Foucault, the author of Surveiller et punir (Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison), who wrote: "Personally, I would proceed very cautiously, recalling what Nietzsche said, ‘Our societies no longer know what it is to punish’." Perhaps punishment is an area where it is not possible to progress or to find meaning. What is certain, however, is that the sentences meted out give rise to certain social practices. This book examines six of them — theorising, legislating, motivating, counting, guarding and doing "time".
Guy Casadamont and Pierrette Poncela put forward the following thesis: "Ever since its unknown origins, there has never been a fair sentence, perhaps simply because to sentence is to punish."
"Where does courage lie?" asked Michel Foucault. "It lies in constantly and painstakingly addressing some of the world’s most ancient issues: justice and punishment."

Guy Casadamont, a legal expert and sociologist, is in charge of studies for the French Direction de l’Administration Pénitentiaire. He is a lecturer in criminology at the University of Paris-X-Nanterre and was formerly a director of studies at the Ecole National d’Aministration Pénitentiaire.
Pierrette Poncela is a professor of criminal law and director of the Centre of Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Paris-X-Nanterre. She is a former director of studies at the Institut de Criminologie, in Paris, and president of the Association Française de Criminologie. She is most notably the author of Au nom de l’ordre, une histoire politique du code pénal and Droit de la peine, a textbook published by Les Presses Universitaires de France. She is the co-author, with P. Lascoumes, of Réformer le code pénal.