Prison and Penal Reform in the 1800s

What is prison really like in the 21st Century?

Activity and discussion ideas

For students to share perceptions of what prison is like today and think about where those perceptions have come from

1. Draw a picture for the word prison.
Compare images – what did you draw and why?
Label your drawing with the words you would use to describe prison today
2. Some people think prisons are 'soft' and some think they are too harsh – why don’t they agree?
3. Draw a prisoner – what do they look like? Why? What type of person is most likely to go to prison and why?
4. What punishments fit the crime? Try out our worksheet to see what you think
5. Why do people commit crimes? What are the reasons?
6. Who commits the most crime? Men, Women or children?
7. What should we do with children who commit crimes? How should they be treated? Why do some people think they should be treated harsher than adults? (Jamie Bulgar’s 10 year old killers – some people saw them as 'pure evil'). Which punishments do you think will stop them from committing a crime again? Explain your answers.
8. What does punishment mean?
9. What does retribution and rehabilitation mean?
10. Should we be building more or less prisons?
11. What should the future of prisons be like?
12. What is the reality of prisons in the 21st Century?
13. What is life like for the families and children of people in prison? (men and women).

There are lots of issues to discuss and debate to get a good overview of the situation in the UK today. This worksheet could be a starting point.

We have another learning journey on My Learning about an 11 year old girl, Sophia Constable who was sent to prison in 1872 for stealing a loaf of bread. Did her punishment fit the crime?

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