Jail - History

History

For most of history, imprisoning has not been a punishment in itself, but rather a way to confine criminals until a punishment (often corporal or capital punishment) was administered. There were prisons used for detention in Jerusalem in Old Testament times, and the Bible details the imprisonment of Joseph in Egypt. Dungeons were used to hold prisoners; those who were not killed or left to die there often became galley slaves or faced penal transportations. In other cases debtors were often thrown into debtor's prisons, until they paid their gaolers enough money in exchange for a limited degree of freedom.

Only in the 19th century, beginning in Britain, did prisons as known today become commonplace, however institutions dating earlier into the 16th century in the Netherlands (Rasphuizen)are the first instances of institutions for the main purpose of confining offenders. The modern prison system was born in London, influenced by the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham. Bentham's panopticon introduced the principle of observation and control that underpins the design of the modern prison. The notion of prisoners being incarcerated as part of their punishment and not simply as a holding state until trial or hanging, was at the time revolutionary. This is when prisons had begun to be used as criminal rehabilitation centers.

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