JSB173 Week 8 Revision
Prisons, Imprisonment and Community Corrections
History of Prisons
Historically the first prisons were not so much places of punishment as they were
holding places for criminals until they paid their debts or were transferred to capitol
They were rowdy and disorganised, with plenty of room for malevolence.
Until two hundred years ago, the confinement itself was not actually a punishment.
Two hundred years ago, the growing concern for the numbers of unemployed and
religious beliefs merged to create the modern day prison, then called the
It was a place for those whose souls needed saving and it was believed that in the
dark and miserable confines of imprisonment, men could find God again and their
souls could be salvaged.
However it soon proved that the penitentiary was not successful, and in fact it did
not help men become closer to God but rather quite literally sent them mad.
Role of Prisons Today
Why, given the failure of the penitentiary, are prisons still implemented today?
Many argue that the prison serves as proof that the State is in control and is always
right. It shows that the State is virtuous and criminals are evil.
In the 1990s almost all Western jurisdictions rebuilt their prisons virtually from
scratch. Cell capacity was doubled and surveillance systems installed. There became
a focus on ‘humane’ prisons, with toilets and showers in cells which reduced rape
crime. Essentially, prisons became much safer and more humane than the original
Punishments within prisons have for the most part become less physical, though