CRIME AND PUNISHMENT THROUGHOUT TIME
Over time, crime and punishment has been handled very differently. For instance, in the Roman era, crimes could be punishable by death; however now a days (thankfully) the death penalty has been abolished in hope that the guilty can learn to be better people. But why have attitudes to punishment changed over time? What has lead to the civilised punishments we have today? In this text, I will be discussing the Roman, Anglo-Saxon/Viking,Tudor and Victorian reactions towards crimes.
Roughly between 500 BC and 400 AD, was in power of most of the world we live into now. Rome itself became overcrowded with people with many different people from various backgrounds. As a result, Rome became a very dangerous place, it had slum areas and dark places, which people would lurk around in. Vigilies (special individuals) had the responsibility to capture wrongdoings (criminals) and Bring them to the magistrate. Punishments were mostly for people who are caught red-handed. The most common punishments were fines and receiving a whipping. On the other hand, There were harsher punishments that were usually saved for things like treason and murder. The harsher punishments included: crucifixion and being pushed off a cliff (basically death). In the Anglo-Saxon times, major crimes, such as treason (plotting against the king) Punishment, for example, death or branding; however, smaller crimes would lead to a fine. You had been committing several amounts of crime continuously, well that would result in your limbs being cut off (mutilation). If a jury couldn’t decide wether a criminal was guilty or not, they would leave the decision to God. The name of this would be an ordeal. The criminal had to ensure a painful ordeal:standing still whilst having a red hot bar of iron burned into their skin, being tied up, hands and feet, and thrown into the water. If they survived the ordeals they would be proven innocent if not then would be thought guilty. If a red hot bar of iron would be burned into your skin your hand would be bandaged and after three days the bandages would be removed. The wind showed sign of healing you would be proven Innocent, however, if not then you would have to endure even more excruciating, final punishment. Before weirgild was established, it was the law that victims could track down the criminal and murder him/her.
In the Tudor time crime was still the most common crime committed. This was due to the growing population and Poverty. Additionally, begging was also a celebrity in the world of crime. This was because of the rule stating that the homeless could have their rights taken away from them and that they could be enslaved for 2 years time. Murder was not as common but certainly did occur. This was due to a certain disease that there was no cure to. Thus people would kill each other because they knew they were going to die either way. Victorians, finally. In the Victorian times, the most common crime was still theft, however pickpocketing had to be the winner in popularity! There was also prostitution, which was when someone used another persons talent for financial gain. This was also quite popular. In the 1700’s the first police force was developed. It all started in London and over time moved throughout the world. Eventually, the police were in charge of controlling law and order. Even later on in time, prisons became the main force of punishment; similar to today. Another force of punishment was transportation. This was when the police would make the decision to ship you of to Australia to work. In Australia you would have to work manual labour, whilst being surrounded by the scorching sun and deadly archinds.
WW2. A time of hatred, death and war. World War Two was fought between 1939 and 1945. It was a time of hardship and heartbreak. The government announced new rules such as rationing and air raid warnings. This meant much more people were going through poverty and needed to find ways to survive. Many children were sent off to the countryside. During the war most of the crimes were reported in England and Wales. In many cities shops and houses were bombed. Thus looting and robbery became much more common. Another reason for crime was, because of the new rules, cities were dark and had no light. That meant it was easier to sneak around and not get caught. It also lead to many more injuries too. Thankfully, police still were active during the war but their responsibilities increased so petty crimes were not dealt with as much. On the other hand their duties stayed the same along with the new ones. Police had to make sure that traffic was flowing freely in towns keeping the peace and dealing with criminals. The Police also had new wartime duties. They had to make sure people obeyed the wartime blackout rules, help the rescue services during and after bombing raids and search for soldiers who had deserted (run away) from the army. Because off this many police were called ‘blackout bobbies’ because they had to make sure that no light from houses and shops could be seen outside. This was to protect buildings from German bombers flying overhead.