Discipline and Punish is an account of the contemporary penal system. In his book Foucault, seeks to examine punishment in its public perspective, and to scrutinize the effect of varying power relations on punishment. He commences by exploring the situation prior to the eighteenth century, at the time when public execution and corporal penalty were popular punishments, and torment was part of nearly all criminal investigations. Punishment was formal and intended for the prisoner's body. It was a custom in which the audience was imperative. It is through Public execution that the authority and power of the King was reestablished. The details of the execution were put in literature which revealed that the public was profoundly involved. (Foucault, 2009, p.516)
On the contrary, a hypothetical rearrangement occurs. Punishments are now anticipated to correct and develop. A good judgment of shame about sentences develops along with this. Punishment no longer laid a hand on the body. And if it happened, it was merely to get at something further than the body: the soul. Fresh figures took over from the slayer, such as doctors, psychiatric specialists, and chaplains. Capital punishments were therefore made painless by drugs. The eradication of pain and the stop of spectacle were linked. Equipments like the guillotine, which usually killed without touching the body, were proposed to be uncongenial and painless. The punishment now dealt with the soul (p.517).
Foucault depicts the genealogy that exists between the modern soul and the supremacy to judge. It trails behind four broad rules; to consider punishment as a multifaceted societal function, to consider punishment as a political ploy, to determine whether the account of punitive law and of the human sciences are connected, and lastly to try to unearth changes in punishing techniques a political skill of the body and a common history of varying power relations (Foucault, 2009, p.516).
In addition, the body-soul alteration is fundamental to Discipline and Punish. For Foucault, the body has a genuine subsistence, save for the "modern soul" which is regarded as a recent invention. More often than not, there are limits to how you can discipline the body, as the death sentence at the beginning reveals, but the soul provides a new range of possibilities. Firstly, it permits you to think as to why the felony occurred; as this makes the motives that drive the criminal to be known as well as understanding the subject of investigation. Secondly, it facilitates one to judge the offender beyond the offense and its punishment. Otherwise, Instead of imposing an excruciating penalty, or murdering him, it becomes feasible to administer and explore him. This shift from body to soul helps in marking winding up of the public idea of punishment, for the reason that even as the body has to be tormented in public, the soul is a concealed thing (Newburn, 2009, p.514).
On the same wavelength, corrective power is epitomized by Bentham's Panopticon, an edifice that demonstrates how individuals can be controlled and supervised efficiently. Reformatories develop from this thought of discipline. The main aim is to both withdraw the individual of his liberty and to restructure him. The penitentiary is considered the next in line. It a combination of a hospital, a prison and a workshop and its aim is to replace the prisoner with the delinquent. The creation of the delinquent comes as a response to changes in popular misconduct, with the principal aim of marginalizing and controlling popular conduct
The annotations about the soul being the reformatory of the body replicates Foucault's love of inconsistency, but they also drive an important point home. The body is caged for the reason that people can be restricted by sciences intended for the soul, for example psychiatry. Foucault endeavors to register a move from a condition where the criminal's body is assaulted, to one where we are all regimented and controlled.
In conclusion, Foucault's responsibility in the prison transformation movement is an imperative context for this part: he aided to run the French Groupe d'information sur les Prisons (GIP) in the 1970s. The group was entrusted with the distribution of information on prisons to the public, and was apprehensive with letting prisoners air their own grievances.