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How Government Invented our Modern, Inefficient Prison System


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How Government Invented our Modern, Inefficient Prison System

12 HOURS AGO Chris Calton

In the modern legal system, the victim of the crime gets punished twice. In the case of a robbery, for example, the victim gets robbed by the thief and then, if the criminal is actually arrested and imprisoned, the victim gets robbed again by the government to fund the incarceration. This makes the case for a prison industry suspect in a free market legal system. But many libertarians make the case that in a libertarian society, free market prisons would emerge. As with so many things, history is able to offer some insights into the issue.

For most of Anglo-Saxon history, prisons were largely absent from the criminal justice system. The establishment and expansion of prison as a way of punishing criminals came about only as the government encroached further and further into the court system.

After the Norman Conquest of 1066, Anglo-Saxon common law became absorbed into royal law over the course of many centuries. Even as the legal system became more government-controlled, though, punishments for most of English history continued to be restitution-based, rather than punitive. Just as in libertarian legal theory, if a person violated the common law — which typically only ever meant a violation of a person or property    :snip: 

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