This touch on different topics such as different

This essay will be discussing the
evolution of crime and punishments throughout history and the factors within
history that may or may not have influenced and effected the evolution. This
essay will touch on different topics such as different methods of punishments,
gender, race, human rights act, hierarchy/status, capital punishment and so

Up until the second half of the 20th
century crimes such as rape, robbery, murder and adultery where punished by
death in the UK. Capital punishment was considered a norm and the belief of ‘An eye for an eye’ was commonly shared as the UK was deeply religious at the
time. The means of capital punishments varied for example beheading, boiling in
oil, burying alive, burning, forced ingestion of poison ,crucifixion , disembowelment,
drowning, flaying alive, hanging, 
impalement, stoning, strangling, being thrown to wild animals, and
quartering. It is believed that punishments such as hanging were introduced to
Britain by the Saxons in the 6th century and was then predominantly
used for murderers, traitors and those guilty of serious crimes. For lesser
crimes such as pick pocketing mutilation and corporal punishments were deemed
more appropriate. The last executions took place in 1964 by the means of
hanging. Soon after this capital punishment was abolished for murder (in Great
Britain 1965 and in Northern Ireland 1973). The death penalty remained a legal punishment
for certain offences such as treason although unused up until its abolishment
in 1998. The UK in 2004 became prohibited from restoring the death penalty act
due to its membership in the European Convention thus making the 13th
protocol on Human rights binding.

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The English legal system from the
latter parts of the 17th century to the early 19th
century was known as ‘The Bloody Code.’ It was known as
the bloody code due to the ridiculously large number of crimes in which the
death penalty could be enforced on. In 1688 there were initially 50 offences in
the statute book which were legally punishable by death. By 1776 that number
had almost quadrupled and reached 220 by the end of the century. The legal
system at the time was considered to be ludicrously harsh and uncalled for
however was seen as crucial in the eyes of the law makers. At the time those
who created the law as well as those who influenced and enforced the law all
had something in common; they were all of a certain status in society. They
were all wealthy and middle classed. Statistics of the time show that crimes
and offences were predominantly committed by the working and lower class due to
their financial and economic state and not due rebelliousness and delinquency.
The attitudes of the law makers were unsympathetic and harsh. They preserved
people who committed crimes as greedy, lazy and sinful and therefore deserve little/no
mercy. As the rich made the law they ensured that their interest were
protected. They instantaneously criminalised anything which may have threatened
their wealth, property or sense of law and order and made it punishable by
death to eliminate any reoccurrence. The harsh laws was also intended to act as
a deterrent. It was a shared ideology that people might not commit crimes if
they knew if caught they would be sentenced to death. This belief influenced
the idea of making executions public spectacles up until the 1860’s; the
authorities believed that publicly hanging criminals would frighten people into
conforming to the law and desisting from committing crimes.

An alternative punishment to
capital punishment in the 18th century was Transportation. This involved the
convicted criminals being transported to colonies to serve their prisons
sentence. It was advantageous in the aspects of removing the criminal from
society, being deemed as more ‘moral’ in comparison to capital punishment and
also being quite cheap as the state only had to pay the cost of the journey.
About 160,000 people were sent to Australia from 1787; these were men, women
and children, sometimes as young as nine years old.

Britain found little use for
prisons as most crimes were worthy of the death penalty due to The Bloody Code and if someone was found
innocent after trial they were simply set free. Thomas Moore’s Utopia in 1615
suggested imprisonment as a punishment alternative to death and execution. He
suggested that thieves should be imprisoned rather than executed and reduced in
status as slaves for a number of years , however state prisons did not exist at
the time therefore there was no place to send them. At the time most prisons
were privately owned and rented out by landlords. London’s first state prison,
Millbank, was opened in 1779. 30 years later it was denounced by the government
at the time due to the prisons filthiness, overcrowding and crude conditions.
In 1877 prisons finally became a state-run service. Children found in prison
were either born there or arrived with their nursing mother. However some were
incarcerated for example eight year old Sarah Ann franks who was sentenced to
three months imprisonment for stealing peppermints in 1857. The children’s act
of 1908 ensured that imprisonment for children under 14 was abolished. In the
early years of the century all criminals were thrown together in the common
jail regardless of crime or age. A change was pending and concern was
increasing over the rapid increase of petty crimes. In 1823 the law was
introduced that separate lock ups should be provided for those awaiting trial,
those that have been convicted and those who are hardened criminals. In the
beginning of the nineteenth petty crime was drastically increasing in numbers
especially amongst children. The immediate explanation for this increase is the
surge in urban poverty due to the growth in industrial revolution. As people
fled into cities in the hope of finding employment the rate of poverty
increased and the amount of slums multiplied. 
Mass unemployment led to overcrowding and filth also accompanied with
vices such as crime, sexual deviances and alcohol abuse. All of these factors
made a conducive environment for juvenile gangs and petty thievery.

In Victorian England
it was more common for women to be sentenced compared to modern day England.
Woman contributed to approximately 17% of the prison population compared to
todays 4%. In the latter parts of Victorian 90% of female prisoners were given
short custodial sentences. Female prison conditions were considered to be
relatively pleasant as many women saw it as an improvement on life compared to
the workhouse.

94.5% of the
UK’s current population is made up of white people but only made up 82% of the
prisons population.1.8% of the remaining of the population are black but they
ironically make up 12.1% of the prison population. Black, Asian and other
ethnic minorities are over represented in the criminal justice system in
England and wales. The question of whether or not minorities are treated more
harshly compared to white people is very controversial however there is also evidence
that suggests it does happen within certain parts of the system. The Ministry
of Justice report in 2008 reported that ‘Afro
Caribbean’s were most likely to be arrested for robbery; three times more
likely to be cautioned by the police; three and a half more times more likely
to be arrested; if arrested more likely to be charged and faced court
proceedings than to receive a caution or an NFA; more likely, if found guilty,
to receive a custodial sentence; five times more likely to be in prison.’
Differences in stop and search and arrest rates may simply be due to different
policing strategies or personal discrimination by officers. However differences
in rates of imprisonments may be due to courts and judges handing down harsher
sentences to minorities. Many scholars have argued that institutional racism is
present in the UK’s criminal justice system. Macpherson (1999) defines institutional racism as the collective
failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service
to people either because of their culture, colour, or ethnic origin.

Institutional racism can be distinguished in procedures,
attitudes, and conducts which are racially prejudiced towards certain ethnic
groups. MacPherson’s perspective of institutional racism was founded on his
investigation into the wrongdoing of the murder case of a black boy called
Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racially driven attack by five white
boys. Stephen Lawrence was stabbed multiple times by these boys while he was
waiting for a bus in London with a friend and subsequently bled to death.
Whilst a few suspects were reported to the police after his murder it was found
that lethargic attempts had been made by the police to chase these suspects and
to arrest them (Macpherson 1999). Hence, Macpherson conducted a study into the
possible explanations for this unethical demeanour and he discovered that the
police, the Crown Prosecution Service, as well as the courts had been
prejudiced and discriminatory in handling the case because their efforts to trail
the evidence and prosecute the offenders were inadequate. The findings of this investigation
were what aided Macpherson’s verdict that the police, the Crown Prosecution
Service, and the courts were institutionally racist towards ethnic minorities
and blacks (Macpherson 1999). Moreover, writers such as Phillips (2011), Souhami
(2013), and Bowling et al (2015) have also argued that there are some features
of institutional racism within the criminal justice system. Some of these suggested
features include the disproportionate and inconsistent stop and search rates of
blacks and ethnic minorities by the police, the overrepresentation of blacks
and ethnic minorities within prison statistics, and the underrepresentation of
Blacks and ethnic minorities within the police force, the Crown Prosecution
Service, and the courts. The police service of England and Wales implements a variety
of measures that are aimed at overlooking the population in order to limit the eruption
of deviance and to ensure law and order. One of the most popular ways in which
it scrutinises the public is through the use of stop and search routines which allow
them to screen individuals that they suspect to have criminal intentions. The
disproportionate targeting of blacks and ethnic minorities during stop and
search routines is one of the main issues of institutional racism within the
criminal justice system of England and Wales. The police service of England and
Wales has the legislative right to stop and search people before an arrest is
made, if deem to be necessary. Some of the most common stop and search powers
that it exercises are Section One of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
(PACE) and Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
(CJPOA). Section one of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act is one of the most
regularly used powers which authorises the police to stop and search people and
vehicles in order to check for stolen or prohibited items that can be used for
violent purposes. Additionally, this power is only allowed to be used when the
police have ‘reasonable’ grounds to suspect that an individual may be in
possession of these harmful or prohibited items. In contrast Section 60 of the
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act permits the police to stop and search a
person or a vehicle for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments that could
be used for impairment, without reasonable suspicion being held.

This power is enabled for use in occurrences
where there is an expectation of violence by the police about a given area. For
example, if the police suspect that violence is about to erupt in a
neighbourhood they may proceed to randomly stop and search a number of people
within it. Similarly there are other stop and search powers that do not require
the police to have reasonable grounds for suspicion in order to exercise them
such as Section 47A of the Terrorism Act 2000. Within this legislation the
police is permitted to stop and search vehicles, drivers, and passengers 


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