Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

The Work in Prison at the Beginning of Modern Romania

Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

The Work in Prison at the Beginning of Modern Romania

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. Since the beginning of the historical era, the association of work with criminal liability can be found. In all important states of Antiquity, slavery was associated with criminal slavery. Convicts to forced labour in mineral and salt mines are mentioned by the Romans; in Egypt, convicts put in chains were working on dams and irrigation channels; we receive such information from Assyrian, Indian and Greek sources. Running a bow over time and through the Dark Ages, criminal scientists of modern age stop to examine the realities of their time, concerning the great revolutionary transformations and the socio-political reforms in England, USA, France and other West European countries.

Keywords: penitentiary science, criminal work, the mixed prison system, earning of a convict

1. Thinking trends on the purpose of work in prison

The penitentiary science completing the science of criminal law aims to study the most suitable methods for reformation and return to society of the offender who served his sentence. The organization of work in prison "so that the convict could get out with a professional education" is also among the chosen means.

"Parum est coerceré improbos poena, nisi probos eficias disciplina" (It is no use to force the wicked ones by punishment, if they do not become better in the prison system) - was the slogan written on the gate of the first cell prison, Saint-Michel of Rome, built in 1702. This belief was shared by all criminal scientists of modern times. Precisely the work - they all agree - gives a reforming character to the sentence, preparing the convict for the releasing day and for his reintegration into society, in order to earn an honest living.

After the Great French Revolution, in England, America, Holland, instead of most degrading labours that would impart punishment a sense of terror, began the systematic organization of workshops in prisons, with the exercise of profitable professions that provided prisoners earnings and the learning of useful occupations, from which they could benefit at the time of their release.

Imprisonment without work "is a real torture" said a senior official of the General Directorate of Prisons. Equally true is that work should not be unbearable, but suited to the power of work, to the prisoner's skills, to the seriousness of the offence for which the individual was convicted, as reflected in the length of the detention period. Of course, the work rule imposed in principle to all prisoners, must involve the natural restriction that invalids and sick people should be exempted. Also, the prevailing opinion was that if everyone had to work, "it was neither fair nor moral that the political offender, the victim of an idea was submitted to the same work as the criminal who committed an infamous act." Those convicted for press offences, for example, had to be submitted to a less severe regime, giving them the special places and the appropriate occupations for their physical and intellectual statute.

Concerned to make as effective as possible the work practiced in prisons, the authors interested in the subject identified three categories of prisoners. The first category- those who did not know any profession. They were, therefore, advised to learn one. The second category- those with basic skills. They were to be included in school workshops, where they had to complete systematically their previous skills. The latter category was formed by those who mastered their profession thoroughly. By continuing to work, they perfected their knowledge, and the most skilled and disciplined persons were appointed heads of workshops for beginners.

Criminal laws had long time made from the work in prison, an exhausting and boring occupation, a real unproductive torture. Enough to recall the enormous cylinder wheel of the British prison system, latter banned, put into action by the mechanical movement of the prisoners' legs, and which had no other purpose than punishing prisoners by exhaustion. …

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