Purpose and History of Penitentiaries

Table of Content

History of punishment exists since of thousands of years. Though, it is very tough to decide when exactly human civilization started punishment system. There are some records to support the start of punishment system. The earliest legal code may have been that of Ur-Nammu, Founder of third dynasty of Ur at about 2050 BC. In this legal code actually a person will have to pay for something he does wrong. Usually the payment will be done in Silver Mina. Later, In Samarian records there was actually death penalty was given at murder trial.

In the “Law of Eshunna” the upper class and lower class were given different punishment. This law use to cover every aspect of social life including marriage, divorce, Loans etc. The punishments were in form of monetary. The code of Hammurabi written around 1750 BC. By this code, abiding principle was Talio which has to do with mutilating the part of the body which has committed crime. In the kingdom, the legal rights and judicial process were available for everyone. But slaves and prisoners of war were not included in this judicial process.

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In this code, death penalty was very common. In biblical era, the punishments follow Hammurabi law. Romans also borrowed their Law from Hammurabi. Later in 450 BC they made “Twelve Tables” to ensure the rights of average citizens. The Law of India and China were developed on the basis of European and Middle East. The common Indian Law called Manu was complied in 1st or 2nd century and that of china called Tang code was in 8th century. History of Prison Development The exact date or year of development of cannot be found but the history of prison is very old.

In mythology of Ramayana it is already into picture. In the civilization of human being prison can be seen into existence since 16th and 17th centuries. These prisons were called houses of correction and so many of them were built in England. During this period prison was not a punishment at all. It was the place where criminals were kept who are awaiting their sentences or looking for judicial process to complete. During this period prisons were poorly maintained and commanded by irresponsible commandants.

During mid-18th century prison development was on track as confinement with hard labor was beginning to seen as substitute for petty crime. In 18th century solitary confinement was seen as a punishment. The idea was first tried out in USA at Eastern State Penitentiary, which was opened in Cherry hill in Philadelphia in 1829. The management of this type of system was called separate System. Meanwhile another management system called “Silent System” arouses. In 19th century capital punishment was seen as inappropriate and Jail was the good replacement for it. 19th century saw a birth of state prison.

The first national penitentiary was completed at Millbank in London, in 1816. In 1842 Pentonville prison was built using the Panoptican design. In 1877 prisons were brought under prison commission. 20th century has seen imprisonment as a major punishment and it has almost replace death sentencing. So many prisons were built in this era. Comparison of the Pennsylvania system and the Auburn system Auburn is a prison system which is also known as congregate system. In this system, prisoners work, eat together in day time side by side and put into cell in nights.

Silence is maintained always. Their works consists of hard labor such as building roads. It is considered as a route to salvation and repentance. Auburn system built on tier model in which different levels of cells built above one another. Convicts are kept in this as per their criminal offense. In this because of working environment it generates income that Pennsylvania does not generate. This system of prison management is accepted internationally. Whereas, the Pennsylvania system which is also known as separate system encourages solitary confinement of prisoners.

This system has a leading influence in penology over a century and was forerunner of present system. Prisoners were kept separate even during work in order to avoid any distraction of repentance. The idea was originally developed by the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons, whose most active members where Quakers. Prison labor and its Impact Prison labor is a corrective measure taken by prison system to provide the prisoner with some option of work and make them skilled so that they can be successful in their life after serving sentence.

It has many good things some skill including a financial gateway for prisoner, a route to learn skills. But most of the time it is done wrongly by prison management. Prisoners are kept in very stressful situation which leads to decline of health and other aspects.


1. http://www. jstor. org/discover/10. 2307/25604304? uid=3737496&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=56213902583 2. http://www. howardleague. org/history-of-prison-system/ 3. http://www. scribd. com/doc/40472015/History-and-Development-of-Prisons 4. http://www. wcprg. org/History. pdf

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Purpose and History of Penitentiaries. (2017, Feb 10). Retrieved from


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