Is prison the best place for criminals?

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A prison confines individuals who have been deprived of their liberty following a conviction for a crime which is an intentional act that is deemed to be socially harmful or dangerous and is specifically defined, prohibited, and punishable under the criminal law.

On the other hand, capital punishment or the death penalty is the execution of criminal who has been sentenced to death after conviction.

Development of prison system

Under the influence of the European Enlightenment, which gave birth to the universal Godlessness that is called secularism, the Abolition movement, in the latter part of the eighteenth century, began to limit the scope of capital punishment. Prisons increasingly became the main means of punishing serious offenders. By the early twenty-first century, a majority of countries had abolished or suspended the death penalty, and imprisonment became the most severe form of punishment their courts could impose.

Secular viewpoint

The ideas that prisons are places of punishment and capital punishment should be abolished originate from secularism. The arguments in favour of prisons mirror arguments against capital punishment.

Under secularism, murder became a crime against society as represented by the state, rather than a crime against the person as represented by the victim’s relatives.

Secular arguments in favour of prisons

The secular arguments in favour of prisons are:

  • General and individual deterrence
  • Retribution
  • Reformation
  • Protection of the public
  • Discrimination against minorities
  • Lower penalty of miscarriage of justice
  • Capital punishment is torture
  • Capital punishment is undignified


It is argued that prisons offer general deterrence to those who would otherwise commit crimes and individual deterrence by making it less likely that those who serve a prison sentence will commit crimes after their release.

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