Foucault on criminals

The break between public opion and criminals has the same origin as the prison system itself. Or, rather, it is one of the great benefits that the power structure has reaped from that system. In fact, the hotsile relationship that we see today between criminals and the lower strata of society did not exist until the eighteenth century – and in some parts of Europe not until the ninteenth or even early twentieth century. (…) At that point , a new form of economic discipline calling for honesty, accuracy, punctuality, thrift, and an absolute respect for property was imposed on all levels of society. It became necessary on the one hand to create in the popular mind an openly hostile attitude towards illegality. Thus with the aid of prisons, those in power created a hard core of criminals who had no real communication with the masses and were no longer tolerated by them.

(p. 126, Foucault Live)

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