Punishment and Prisons

Punishmentand Prisons


Punishmentand Prisons

Punishmentis the act of making someone pay for the offense he has done to thesociety. It is meant to set the fault right while supposed to serveenough to prevent that crime from being repeated (Ferris, 2005). Astribal societies evolved and developed to become class societies andform of self-governance were created, punishment was one of the waysto prevent crimes in this societies. Punishment dates from Samaria inthe kingdom of Urk by King Gildamesh, who reigns around 2700BC. Inearly Mesopotamia kingdom where there presentation of the earliestand organized civil culture and permanent residential. The legalcode, the code of Ur-Nammu clearly stated what a person would pay ifhe were to commit a crime. In addition, there was to be a capitalsentence this happen in the murder trial (Belmont- Earl, 2013).

Punishmentfrom religious kingdom also existed as in the Jews and the Arabs. Thepunishments for crimes in these societies meant to serve some threepurposes expiratory this was to try to obtain forgiveness from God(Belmont- Earl, 2013). Retributive this punish the wrongdoer for hiscrime and deterrent, as they were supposed to be very severe andhence preventing others from doing them. As the kingdoms proceeded,there were many ways of punishment. Some of these ways would involvemutilating parts of the bodies of the offenders. Some offenders wouldbe sold into slavery or worse be stoned or burnt to death or even tobe decapitated. In some other instances, offenders were publiclyflogged, humiliated and even banished from their communities.Imprisonment also occurred when a person did repetitive crimes(Ferris, 2005).

Imprisonmentbefore the 17th century was not viewed as a serious punishment andhence were not often used. They were majorly used to hold people whowere awaiting trial. Where they would receive a more corporal orcapital form of punishment. In addition, rulers would keep theirpolitical enemies in prisons like the Bastille prison in Paris.People who owed debts were also kept in debt prison until they wouldpay their debts. However, their families would come and stay withthem as long as they would please and leave whenever they want.

Inthe 1700s, executions, mutilations, and other forms of harshpunishments were highly criticized. Hence, governments turned moretowards imprisonment as a method of serious punishment. This was theonset of early prison system. However, poor sanitation in the prisoncaused serious outbreaks of diseases (Ferris, 2005). These prisonswas mostly overcrowded and unsegregated in terms of gender or legalstatus. The diseases i.e. epidemic typhus or jail fever constantlykilled not only the prisoners but also jailers and some rareoccasions’ lawyers and judges presiding over the cases.

InAmerica, the prison systems were based on American Revolution,religious doctrines, and classicalism. These led to the developmentof the Pennsylvania system that featured solitary confinement andgave the inmate more time to reflect on his behavior. However, thissystem was faced with overcrowding and was very expensive tomaintain. These led to the demise of this system which led to itsreplacement by the Auburn system. The Auburn system focused onbreaking the inmates’ spirit and utilize him in hard labor. Theinmates would spend all their time together but retreat to differentconfinements at night. Silence was to be enforced at all times thiswas known as the silent treatment (Belmont- Earl, 2013). Theinstitutions were cheap to construct and the inmates’ hard laborprovided an opportunity for the institutions to make some profits.

Prisonlabor has caused many debates on whether or not it should be there.In this many fears that it would decrease the available jobs in themarket as it sort to offer a very cheap labor. In addition, it hasalso been viewed as a method increasing a countries productivity asit sought to utilize the idle resource in prisons. As this wouldincrease the productivity of those in the prisons giving a relief totaxpayers as it would help in covering cost like housing prisoner,and it will reduce the recidivism rate. Prison labor has alsoinfluenced the global market and even forming a smaller part of theglobal GDP (Ferris, 2005).

Inconclusion, prison labor provides an advantage to both the firm andthe inmates. As it provides the firms with a steady, cheaper andmotivated workforce. While to the inmate, it gives them a source ofcapital to cater for compensations and provide for their families. Italso reduces the rate of the inmates to repeat their crimes. However,laws should be put in place to ensure this workforce does not hurtthe countries labor and market (Belmont- Earl, 2013).


Belmont-Earl,J. (2013). Ourboys or inmates: An institutional history of the Vermont IndustrialSchool, 1907-1917.

Ferris,T. W. (2005). Sentencing:Practical approaches.Markham, Ont: LexisNexis Butterworths.