Crime and Punishment
Big Question Punishment in the 20th Century Main page
     

What was the purpose of 20th century punishments?

By 1900 the worries the Victorians had about the uneducated masses in the cities and about crime had dwindled. There was universal education, better housing, the police were an accepted part of British life and the crime rate was lower. The big question in this strand is about the purposes of punishments. British governments in the first two thirds of the 20th century felt able to embark on new penal policies which emphasised reform rather than punishment.

Young offenders were removed entirely from the adult justice system. Efforts were made to keep them out of custody, through probation, begun in 1907. Borstal schools were started in1902, with the aim of turning young offenders into better citizens. The same aims were applied to adult prisons. Punitive rules were relaxed so that prisoners could lead more normal lives. In an attempt to deal with unemployment and family breakdown, which often led ex-prisoners back to crime, they were given meaningful work, with pay, and family visits were made easier. Even more controversially, capital punishment, the ultimate punishment throughout all history, was abolished in 1965.
However, times changed in the last decades of the century. Crime was increasing (see Gallery 10), young people were involved in violent crime, often associated with football hooliganism. There was less sympathy with trying to reform offenders, more sympatyhy for the victims of crime and more desire to punish. Borstals were closed and Detention Centres, giving a "short, sharp shock" were started. From 1972, offenders could be given Community Service Orders. This meant doing many hours of socially worthwhile work to show that the offender was repaying a debt to society. In the 1990s tagging was introduced for offenders as a way of keeping them out of trouble. In some areas offenders have been brought face-to-face with their victims in an effort to help both get over the crime and move on.

Case-Studies:
1. Punishment of young offenders
2. Prisons in the 20th century
3. Abolition of capital punishment

How to work
1. Work through each of these Case-Studies. Read and analyse the sources in each. There are HINTS in each to help you get the most out of the Sources.
2. At the end of the Case-Study, fill in some of the Gallery 12 Worksheet.
3. Move on to the next Case-Study. You will only really be able to answer the Key Question when you have done all the Case-Studies. However, you could divide the job between two halves of the class, sharing their results.

 
Game - coming soon Worksheet Case Study 6 Poaching Case Study 5 Smuggling Case Study 4 Highwaymen Case Study 3 Witchcraft Case Study 2  Heresy & Treason Case Study 1  Vagabonds To Prevention 20th century End End Case Studies To Punishment 1750-1900 Case Study 3 Abolition of Capital punishment Case Study 2 Prisons in the 20th century Case Study 1 Punishing young  offenders