Purposes of Imprisonment

Introduction to Imprisonment

Imprisonment serves several universal functions, including the protection of society, the prevention of crime, retribution (revenge) against criminals, and the rehabilitation of inmates. Additional goals of imprisonment may include the assurance of justice based on a philosophy of just deserts (getting what one deserves) and the reintegration of inmates into the community following their sentences. Different countries place greater emphasis on one or more of these goals than others. For example, prisons in the Scandinavian countries stress rehabilitation and offender reintegration. Although prisons in the United States also include rehabilitation and reintegration programs, U.S. penal philosophy emphasizes societal protection, crime deterrence, and just-deserts justice.

Differences among prison policies in various countries depend upon the society’s experience with managing criminals, as well as its experiments with different ways of correcting and improving prisoner behavior. Some countries’ programs foster changes among inmates better than others. Cultural differences also help explain why countries emphasize one imprisonment objective over others. For example, the prison system of Germany emphasizes strict discipline, reflecting a trait commonly ascribed to German culture. The administration of German prisons is military-like and rule-oriented. Consequently, inmates in German prisons experience a more highly regimented routine than inmates in most other prison systems in the world. For instance, until recently German prisons did not permit inmates any visitors.” [1]

Physical Discipline, Imprisonment, Courts

From the book The Clergyman’s Hand-book of Law, about Physical Discipline, Imprisonment, Courts : A clergyman who claims to have been slandered by a parishioner can not administer physical discipline nor put the offender under restraint without leaving himself liable for damages for assault and battery or false imprisonment. If the clergyman desires to treat the charge as a church matter, he must go into the church tribunal; otherwise, his proper course is to bring an action for slander in the State court. [2]

Shock Probation/Shock Incarceration

A type of split sentence, used in some cases in the United States and other countries, where offenders spend a brief amount of time in prison before being released on probation.

The Legal History of Prisons and Imprisonment

This section provides an overview of Prisons and Imprisonment


Notes and References

  1. Information about Imprisonment in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia
  2. Charles M. Scanlan, The Clergyman’s Hand-book of Law. The Law of Church and Grave (1909), Benziger Brothers, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago

See Also

  • Church
  • History of Law

Further Reading

Blumstein, A., & Beck, A. J. (1999). Population growth in U.S. prisons, 1980-1996. In M. Tonry & J. Petersilia (Eds.), Crime and justice: A review of research-Prisons (Vol. 26, pp. 17-62). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Chen, M. K.; Shapiro, J. M. Do harsher prison conditions reduce recidivism? A discontinuity-based approach. American Law and Economic Review 9 : 1-29., 2003.
Clemmer, D. (1940). The prison community. New York: Christopher.
Gendreau, P.; Goggin, C.; Cullen, F. T.; Andrews, D. A. The effects of community sanctions and incarceration on recidivism. Forum on Corrections Research 12 : 10-13., 2000, May.
Hughes, T., & Wilson, D. J. (2003). Reentry trends in the United States: Inmates returning to the community after serving time in prison. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.
Irwin, J. (1980). Prisons in turmoil. Boston: Little, Brown.
Irwin, J. (2005). The warehouse prison: Disposal of the new dangerous class. Los Angeles: Roxbury Press.
Irwin, J.; Cressey, D. R. Thieves, convicts and the inmate subculture. Social Problems 10 ((2)) : 142-155., 1962.
Langan, P. A., & Levin, D. J. (2002). Recidivism of prisoners released in 1994. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.
Lemert, E. M. (1951). Social pathology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Maurer, M. (1999). Race to incarcerate. New York: New Press.
Minton, T. D., & Sabol, W. J. (2009). Jail inmates at midyear 2008: Statistical tables. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.
Nagin, D. S. (1998). Criminal deterrence research at the outset of the twenty-first century. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and justice: A review of research (Vol. 23, pp. 1-42). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Nagin, D. S., Cullen, F. T., & Jonson, C. L. (2009). Imprisonment and reoffending. In M. Tonry (Ed.), Crime and justice: A review of research (Vol. 38, pp. 115-200). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Nellis, A., & King, R. S. (2009). No exit: The expanding use of life sentences in America. Washington, DC: The Sentencing Project.
Pager, D. (2007). Marked: Race, crime, and finding work in an era of mass incarceration. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pyle, D. J. (1995). Cutting the costs of crime: The economics of crime and criminal justice. London: Institute of Economic Affairs.
Sabol, W. J., Adams, W. P., Parthasarathy, B., & Yuan, Y. (2000). Offenders returning to federal prison, 1986-97. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.
Smith, P., Goggin, C., & Gendreau, P. (2002). The effects of prison sentences and intermediate sanctions on recidivism: General effects and individual differences (User report 2002-01). Ottawa: Solicitor General Canada.
Sykes, G. M. (1958). Society of captives: A study of a maximum security prison. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Warren, J. (2008). One in 100: Behind bars in America. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts.
West, H. C., & Sabol, W. J. (2009). Prison inmates at midyear 2008: Statistical tables. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.
World prison brief. (2008). London: King’s College London, International Centre for Prison Studies.
Villettaz, P., Killias, M., & Zoder, I. (2006). The effects of custodial vs. noncustodial sentences on re-offending: A systematic review of the state of knowledge. Philadelphia: Campbell Collaboration Crime and Justice Group.

Hierarchical Display of Imprisonment

Law > Criminal law > Penalty


Concept of Imprisonment

See the dictionary definition of Imprisonment.

Characteristics of Imprisonment

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Translation of Imprisonment

Thesaurus of Imprisonment

Law > Criminal law > Penalty > Imprisonment

See also

  • EC competition
  • EC internal competition
  • EC open competition
  • Deprivation of liberty
  • Detention
  • Solitary confinement