Towards the Late Middle Ages, the Feudal system started to lose its prominence. The view of punishment once again started to shift to being more "correction-oriented. " The creation of a wholly new type of institution for reform through work was the achievement of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries throughout England, where they were often known as bridewells, after London's pioneering foundation, or more formally as houses of correction. (Morgan & Rushton, 1998, p. 176)
The purpose of gaols then was purely for holding prisoners until their scheduled trials. Some parts of the gaol were reserved for convicts awaiting execution or transportation. There were also especially reserved areas for debtors who could not meet their obligations. The problem with gaols was that proper sanitation was virtually non-existent. Prisoners died even before their trials. Gaol-fever claimed many lives. Workhouses were also set up to hold and train vagrants as well as the unproductive members of society the children, the sick, and the poor.
The only actual difference between the two is that escapees from workhouses did not matter so much as those from gaols. (Morgan & Rushton, 1998, p. 176) The Age of Reason and Enlightenment: Reforms in Crime and Punishment The 1700's saw a new movement that propounded reason and philosophy over the olden societal structures and traditions. Divided into the "Rationalists" and "Empiricists," philosophers like Kant, Descartes, Leibniz and Locke all stated that chaos in society can be avoided simply by using and having confidence in human reason in addition to following natural law.
("Enlightenment," 2004) The Age of Enlightenment saw questions raised as to the justice of the slave trade, colonialism, harsh penal systems, torture, unjust taxation, and war. There was also emphasis on the importance of industry, the dignity of labor, and the contributions that may be made by technical knowledge. (Nicolson, 1961, p. 276) By this time, the power exercised by the Church and Feudal lords started to wane and the government became more centered on the people instead of the monarch. (Nicolson, 1961, p. 274) John Locke
The empiricist John Locke has been credited as one of the leading philosophers on law and politics. He proposed a form of "social contract" between the community and government that is geared towards preserving order and mutual happiness as well as personal governance. He said that "ideas were not innate but derived from experience, that rationalism should convince us that government must be based on consent, that property is the reward of labor, and that toleration in politics and religion is the glory of civilized man. " (Nicolson, 1961, p. 13)
Locke laid down five principles by which this trusteeship could be justified and under which it should be operated. First, the natural right of all men to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The people therefore have the right to defend themselves and their interests when these are endangered. Resistance is not rebellion. Nobody should be subjected to authority without his consent. This freedom can only be secured if the principle be accepted that minorities must obey majorities and the fiction be admitted that the acts of the majority are by nature and reason the acts of the whole community.
(Nicolson, 1961, p. 274) Locke also proposed that humans were a generally happy race characterized by reason and tolerance. As all people were independent, nobody had the right to harm another person's "life, health, liberty or possessions. " ("Locke, John," 2004) He also claimed that humans, in their innate and natural goodness, will be able to forego certain liberties in exchange for the greater good. Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham Even in an enlightened age however, crime still continued to exist.
This gave rise to a new problem of fitting punishment to the crime. It is one thing to state and to empirically demonstrate that people regard robbery as more serious than theft or that they view forcible rape as much more serious than indecent exposure, but to stipulate that the punishment for theft or that for rape be so or so many years in prison is a totally different matter. . Any such stipulation is inevitably arbitrary, capricious, and despotic. (Fattah, 1982, p. 7)
Penal reformer and Italian barrister Cesare Beccaria (Fattah, 1982, p.7)proposed that punishments be made in as much conformity is possible to the nature of the crime committed. He advocated the use of corporal punishment for crimes that involved violence while non-violent crimes may be sanctioned with fines. Legislators however decided to simply make imprisonment the primary punishment. There were problems however in deciding the proportion of the length of a prisoner's confinement to the amount of moral guilt and extent of harm done in the commission of the crime.