Historical Evolution of Punishment and Eventual Use of “Houses of Correction” in America

Punishment refers to the infliction of pain among the wrong dowers. Punishment is regarded as a multifaceted social institution that is molded by a set of significant historical and social elements. Punishment contains a number of influences that contain greater effect, impacting elements that go past delinquent persons and population. It was historically regarded that a person is not able to understand the advanced effects and seriousness of his or her action, if the person fails to personally feel the punishment effect. Thus, punishment was practiced at all society evolution stages, though with noted transformation with time.

Punishment can be traced from prehistory age that ended in 3000 B.C. During this time punishment infliction was mostly based on religious teachings and also by group leaders. Punishment at the period was mostly comprised of corporal punishment. During Mesolithic era, there were institutions, social norms andsmall rural communities with rules resulting to the development of the first formal sanction (Goga, 2015). Things changed during Neolithic era where urban communities were formed with appearance of legal order which imposed the initial metropolitan are. This resulted to the establishment of the criminal law rules, though they coincided with religious teaching. Thus, a person who committed a crime was said to violated legal rules and divine rules and to be pure again, that person had to through a series of punishment to enhance purity. Regular practice made punishment a habit, then a rule of law and eventually turned to be mandatory (Stearns, 1936).

In antiquity period that ended in 5th century there were introduction of a number of criminal penalties that include exile, death penalty, economic sanctions, drowning, mutilation, and burning, among others in ancient Mesopotamia. Offence in ancient Greece during this time meant the denial or violation of living based in the mandatory society behavior standards, revolt of an individual against the society, and a prohibited act. Greece could impose private rights violation as punishment, and only imposed criminal law related measure during the 8th century. However, criminal law was long recognized in Roman Empire (Goga, 2015).

During medieval period, punishment in most countries was characterized by murder in horrid manners, physical punishment, mutilation, torture, and humiliation.By the end of this period, there was slight differentiation between heavy and light crimes and the punishment differed. Those with light crime could be punished for a while and then granted their freedom back. This continued until the 16th century,where the first house of correction was created in London (Miethe& Lu, 2005). The main aim of the development of house of correction was to punish individuals with minor crimes that did not require severe punishment like murder, torture and the like. Most of the targeted criminals in this case were laborers.

Nevertheless, most things changed during the modern age transition period. This period was characterized by reforms in criminal law and the development of modern criminal codes. Punishment entailing liberty deprivation was related to cruelty and torture among heavy offenders. By the end of the 18th century, there was definition of importance of proper punishment and trial was given extra importance (Goga, 2015). The house of correction became more popular during this time. The American adapted the house of correction system in the 18th century. Just like British jurisprudence, the main aim of these houses was not to correct but to punish the offenders. However, just like in British, the correction houses housed offenders whose crimes did not guarantee corporal punishment such as murder, or torture among others. The prisoners were meant to do beneficial hard labor (Stearns, 1936).

The development to house of correction resulted to the expansion of imprisonment as the best punishment for the offenders. During this time, the American incarnated both adults and children in the same place. The main aim being making them suffer and ensuring that they regret their crimes before they are released (Reichel, 2002). However, this was found to be more harmful to the children rather than being good. This resulted to the development of juvenile justice system with the aim of assisting children to reform. Unlike the old system where there was no define law governing the magnitude of the punishment, the current system define the punishment that one should receive based on the magnitude of crime.

Criminals in the current system have rights to trial, and to lawyers, unlike in the old system that offenders were convicted without trial or a chance to give their side of the story. The punishment in the current system considers the humanitarian aspect of punishment. Corporal punishment is being limited as the system center on correction and molding offenders to be able to live in the society in the future (Walker& Walker, 1998). Death punishment is reducing every time, and they have greatly been replaced by life imprisonment. Unlike in the past time where the law focused on a certain group of individual and mostly the punishment varied based on who was involved, the law in today’s system is supreme to all and thus, anybody can be executed in a similar manner like all other offenders with similar crime magnitude (Walker&Walker, 1998). Based on this analysis there have been a lot of evolution in the manner of offering punishment to criminal in US, and more chances may as well be seen in the future.

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