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.
of young offenders
in the 20th century
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.