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How did ‘prisons’ originate?

How did ‘prisons’ originate?
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Centuries ago, nobles and men of importance were often captured and imprisoned for revenge or until they were ransomed. It was during 19th century...

Centuries ago, nobles and men of importance were often captured and imprisoned for revenge or until they were ransomed. It was during 19th century that the prisons began to be used for punishment or correction of law violators.

Prisons before that time were used to keep law breakers until trail. After the prisoners were tried, the sentence of the court was immediately carried out. Those who had been declared guilty were put to death, whipped or given other forms of bodily punishment or fined.

Gradually, men realised that this cruel treatment did not prevent crime. Therefore, imprisonment began to be used as a substitute for the death penalty and bodily punishment.

After about 1550, places called ‘workhouses’ or ‘houses of correction’ were established in some European countries. Those places were used to imprison beggars, vagabonds, family deserters, debtors and those guilty minor offenses.

The workhouses began to be used for keeping more serious offenders, but these were not safe for keeping long-term prisoners. Therefore, prisons furnishing greater security began to be built. Most of these prisons were dirty, badly lighted and cold. Food was bad, treatment was harsh and the inmates sat idle.

Prisons changed considerably with time, and today more people believe that a prison should help bring about the reformation of the inmate. There are all kinds of extensive training programs for them, along with medical and psychological help, recreational activity and schooling.

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