Forensic Psychology: History of Imprisonment


Hello everyone, I hope that you're having a good week.

Today's post is on Forensic Psychology and the History of Imprisonment.


History of imprisonment:

Before, we explore the effects of imprisonment on offenders. Let’s learn about the history of imprisonment.


16th Century:

It all began in the 16th century and in this century, imprisonment was to do with religion as it was a common belief that if someone had committed a crime. Then their body was possessed by evil.


Therefore, imprisonment was meant to punish the body and prison was a place for people that were awaiting trial.


Finally, everyone was imprisoned together, and they had very poor conditions. For instance, malnutrition, maltreatment and disease.


18th century:

This era is a bit more interesting because this is known as the ‘Blood code’ era where you were punished with the death penalty and jurors decided on the punishment.


Surprisingly though, there were a lot of people that opposed the death penalty for the less serve crimes.


I thought that this was surprising because I thought that back then people would believe in deterring others from crime a lot more- so I thought it reasonable to assume to that they would want to kill others to act as extreme deterrence for others who wanted steal or commit any crime.


Resulting in jurors refused to punish thieves with the death penalty so instead of the death penalty the offenders were sent to British colonies to do hard labour.


During the 18th Century, there was a person called John Howard that insisted on reform and he wanted the following:

· Paid staff to look after prisoners

· Outside inspections to make sure that the offenders were being treated properly.

· A proper diet for the prisoners.

· Men and women should be kept separate.

· Humane living conditions (proper sanitation)


Overall, in the 18th Century, the Humanitarian approach; more on that later; started and the Howard Leverage of Penal Reform was started as well.


Mid-19th Century:

During the Mid-19th Century, imprisonment replaced the death penalty for the most serious offences and more prisons were built.


Additionally, The Prison Act of 1898 was passed. This abolished hard labour and stated that prison labour should be productive and not harmful to the offender’s health.


Lastly, the idea of prison should be about reform and reducing reoffending was introduced to the world.


20th century:

In all honesty, the 20th Century was less dramatic with their developments, but one important development was that young people should be kept separate to adults. As adults can influence the younger people with potentially devasting consequences.


Another important development was that the mental needs of the offenders were addressed.

Nevertheless, a very odd and… personally, I find strange development was in 1933, the first open prison was built.


These open prisons are prisons were the offenders can simply walkout during the night and come back at night, yet they were monitored.


I find this idea odd as why didn’t the offenders just flee?


Although, Sir Alex Paterson said that “You cannot train a man for freedom under conditions for captivity”


Which makes sense as people do need freedom and not to be caged to be rehabilitated.


I hope that you enjoyed today's Forensic Psychology blog post.

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Have a great week!

Kind regards Connor.

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