The Bible Makes Many References Towards Imprisonment


Christianity focuses on the sinful nature of an individual and solving it through means of various punishments. To understand the reason behind a individuals committing crime, Christianity focuses on the good of the individuals soul and character. Understanding the individuals soul and character and help deter punishments being imposed that may be considered to harsh for ones soul.

Modern Prison System

Prisons were built with the intentions to be an alternative to capital punishment, public humiliation or even disbarment. They were also intended to reform criminals to allow them to return to society as standup citizens. However, the United States has grown to have the highest incarceration rate or the largest human zoo in the world. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the American criminal justice system holds approximately 2.3 million people that are housed in 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories (Sawyer & Wagner, 2019). Crime is rampant throughout the entire world, and in order to handle and combat crime, we first have to understand what causes crime. The bible provides the essential building blocks to both understanding the causes of evil, and the best use of punishment.

Biblical Perspective

In order for the government to combat crime, they have to understand that both sin and evil that is in an individual’s heart is the cause of crime and seeing individuals renewed to Christ is the only way to fully reduce crime. In order to handle the rising crime rate within the United States, the country built more prisons, and pass stricter laws, which carried more jail time such as the three strikes you’re out law (Cullen & Johnson, 2017). These laws ultimately led to more prisons.

Crime essentially is rooted to the sin nature of an individual. Sin can be described as acting contrary to Gods standard. Crime is unlawful behavior that threatens life, liberty, or property of others either directly or indirectly. Crime also includes activity that affects ones self such as drug use, which is ultimately an assault on life. America’s criminal justice system is based off of the idea of the Pagan Roman idea of retribution over the biblical idea which is restitution to the victim or victims and restoration of Godly order. The bible speaks for certain crimes such as “if a thief stole a sheep, he was to restore to the victim two sheep – the one stolen and another (Exodus 22:4 NIV). Under a biblical standpoint, a thief would not be thrown into a correctional facility; instead s/he was forced to compensate the victim of the crime. The offender was both punished and chastened of the crime that they committed but also remained a productive member of society. Offenders were not treated as animals in overcrowded prisons and denied o basic health care but treated as human beings who took responsibility for their actions and sought to bear the consequences of their sinful nature.

The bible makes many references towards imprisonment throughout the bible. There is the imprisonment of Joseph in Genesis 37 as well as the imprisonment of Satan in Revelation 20. Many other individuals were imprisoned such as Peter, James, Paul, and even Jesus Christ himself. When it comes to more serious crimes such as murder, individuals within society may object the biblical view of incarceration; however, the bible addresses this as well. Within the bible, God also speaks towards the death penalty. The state was required to put certain criminals to death and if individuals refused to inflict capital punishment upon those criminals it was considered an offense to God. “Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses…You shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death…So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defies land, and no atonement can be made for land, for the blood that is shed on it, except b the blood of him who shed it (Numbers 35:30-31, 33-34).”


The bible ultimately provides the building blocks to restore the correctional system and to understand why individuals seek out to commit crime, because in order to properly combat crime, first we much understand the true root of crime; sin nature. Genesis 6:5 states “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Understanding and utilizing the bible can help create preventative and corrective measures, all of which can help the current issues within today’s correctional system