Discuss the aims and development of the penal system within the UK over the last 200 years.
In this essay I will be looking at the key developments of the British penal system since the early nineteenth century. I will also discuss how the main objectives of the prison system have changed over this period of time. The earliest origins of imprisonment was the use of holding defendants prior to trial and dates back to the 9th century. This early form of incarceration was not designed as a form of punishment, rather it was reserved for individuals unable to provide surety for loans or behaviour. The majority of these individuals were held within country gaols, although there were some purpose built gaols such as Tower and Fleet (McLaughlin et al, 2001, p.159).The stocks, flogging, mutilation and execution were all commonplace public spectacles used frequently when dealing with criminals. It was not until the mid 16th century that methods of punishment began to change. The possibility of using houses of correction' was now to be considered as a form of punishment. These were primarily factories producing low cost commodities due to their cheap labour. A small minority of criminals (mainly beggars and vagrants) now found themselves being forced to work in these houses of correction. Their main purpose was to combine punishment with individual reformation, whilst ridding towns of tramps and vagabonds (McLaughlin et al, 2001, p.161). Towards the end of the 17th century houses of correction became largely merged with gaols and were under the control of the local Justice of the Peace. This in turn presented fewer problems for penal administration, and so by the 18th century prisons returned to being both custodial for those awaiting trial and to provide for the coercion of debtors. (McLaughlin et al, 2001, p.161). At this time there was no segregation of prisoners. Men, women, children the tried and the untried were housed together. The sale of alcohol was...
Bibliography: McLaughlin, E. and Munice, J. (2001) Controlling Crime, Sage Publications, London.
Todd, A. (2002) Crime, Punishment and Protest, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
www.howardleague.ord/studycentre/historyofprison.htm - accessed 20/01/06.
www.homeoffice.gov.uk/justice/prison/?view=Standard - accessed 21/01/06.
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