Imagine its European 19th century and you’ve committed a serious crime, don’t worry just imagine, at that period of time execution, hours of solitude in filthy cells, deportation, penal bondage were the punishments, and the prison systems were awful.

There were protest and social movements demanding to help and reform the prisoners, instead of brutal punishments, led by many social-religious groups, celebrities, philanthropists such as Jhon Howard, Charles Dickens.

When their movement succeeded, a new form of rehabilitation for the prisoners was introduced, i.e., treadmill. It was invented in 1818 by English engineer Sir William Cubitt. His idea was that to use treadmills for punishment and to shape the prisoners physically and use it to generate power for mills, from which it gets its name treadmill. The original treadmill was a large spoke wheel connected to grinding machines, mills, thrasher and other mechanical devices. In less than a decade more than 50 prisons were using treadmills across Europe and the same across America.

Though this practice resulted in benefits for everyone except the obvious prisoners. They were forced to run on the treadmill for 6 hours a day on a very little food supply. It resulted in the breakdown of the prisoners and injuries, not that any prison guards seemed to care. In 1824, New York prison guard, James Hardie, opposed the idea of treadmills and finally the use of treadmills for prisoners was demolished in 1902 under the Prison Act 1898.

So, how do we reform prisoners in the 21st century? Well, there are various types of chores that can be attained by prisoners and earn some money. This also helps prisoners to get some idea and hands-on experience of work, that they could use in earning a living, after their release from prison. But is that enough?

Adequately, most of the prisoners deserve a second chance but what to do with the notorious criminals who had done some serious crimes that do not allow them to be free? Some crimes cannot be forgiven or forgotten, so they can’t be released and we can’t just keep feeding them in exchange for some little baskets or chairs that they make in prison. There should be a better way to deal with it. This does not mean that criminals should not be allowed to live their life afterwards their sentence.

One way is that we could employ them for scientific experiments. Yes, I know that probably against humanity, but so is experimenting on innocent rats and monkeys. But look on the other side, that’s an immoral felon we’re talking about, and its impact will be twofold. Firstly, we can do a directly human trial of any medicine drug, that would significantly diminish the time which would generally be required for that drug to be used on humans. Secondly, it would make a statement, an impact, an example that no crime should be committed or you can end up being a guinea pig for experiments and that should affect the crime rates in a positive perspective.

Long jail sentences of criminals, which do not deserve to be free, are not very efficient and does not benefit the country in the way it could. It’s true that it keeps the criminals away from the streets but no matter how many criminals get convicted there will be a bunch more will just pop out. Some aggressive actions have to be taken at root problems so that number of criminals get reduced. Almost all crime is due to the repressed desire for aesthetic expression. That’s what makes it dangerous.

There is one, and only one, thing in modern society more hideous than crime namely, repressive justice.

CS Undergraduate Student at IIT Madras and Hansraj College LinkedIn -

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store