History of the Prison System

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Prison is an institution for the confinement of persons convicted of criminal offenses. Throughout history, most societies have built places in which to hold persons accused of criminal acts pending some form of trial. The idea of confining persons after a trial as punishment for their crimes is relatively new. During the 15th century in Europe, the penalties for crimes were some form of corporal punishment like whippings for less serious crimes and execution or enslavement for more serious offenses. In early 16th century England, vagrants and petty offenders were committed to correctional institutions known as workhouses. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the government transported convicted felons to the English colonies. The punishment was thought of as the hard labor to which the prisoners were consigned. It wasn't until the 17th century that the idea that persons convicted of crimes could be punished by confinement and released after a period of time. During the 17th century, England and other European countries like Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands began imprisoning debtors, delinquent juveniles, minor misdemeanant, and felons. Early jails were mostly dark, overcrowded, and filthy. Prisoners were herded together indiscriminately, with no separation of men and women, the young and old, the convicted and unconvicted, or the sane and insane. In America the concept of imprisonment came because of deep religious beliefs. The English Quaker William Penn abolished the death penalty for most crimes in the late 1600's and substituted imprisonment. The Pennsylvania legislature replaced capitalpunishment with incarceration as the primary punishment for ... ... middle of paper ... ...l Report--The Prison System." Maclean's. Toronto, Canada. April 15, 2005 p.24+. · "Haiti: Human Rights Practices, 1995." Country Reports of Human Rights Practices for 1995. March 2006 . · Hongda, Harry W. "A Grim Organ Harvest in China's Prisons" World Press Review. June 2005. p. 22-23. · Lawrence, David Aguila. "In Latin America, Revolting Jail Life." Christian Science Monitor. April 14, 2007. p.6. · "Prison." Microsoft Encarta. 2003. · Swift, Richard. "Criminal Justice" New Internationalist. August 2006. p.7-22. · "The Russian Federation: Broken Promises and Shattered Lives." Amnesty International News. London, England. June 2006 p.3-6. · "Turkey: Prisoners on Hunger Strike Close to Death-Stop Ill Treatment of Prisoners Says Amnesty International." June 13, 2006.

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