49:01 minutes (23.53 MB)
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The United States is home to just five percent of the earth’s population. But we lock up a staggering one quarter of the world’s prisoners.
From our puritan beginnings to our prison abuse scandals, America has an interesting history with punishment. We punish harder and longer than other democracies, which leads to a huge penal system that costs taxpayers billions of dollars. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that America's most longstanding and popular television programs (Cops, America's Most Wanted, CSI) portray criminals and the quest for justice. Today, Where We Live, we’ll begin a two-day discussion about how and why Americans punish…and why we decide to forgive. From how we raise our children to how we enforce our laws. What's changed and what hasn't since the days of town square floggings and hangings at the gallows? Journalist and author Anne-Marie Cusac joins philosopher Shelly Kagan.
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This episode originally aired July 14, 2009.