The idea of imprisonment as a form of punishment is relatively modern. Until the late 18 th century, prisons were used primarily for the confinement of debtors who could not pay, of accused persons waiting to be tried, and of those convicted persons waiting for their sentences – death or transportation. Since the late 18 th century, with the decline of capital punishment (death penalty), the prison has come to be used also as a place of punishment. With the abolition of transportation , the prison has become the principal sanction for most serious crimes. Concern over prison conditions has not diminished over the years. Problems of security and the protection of prisoners from violence on the part of other prisoners have been compounded by the difficulties arising from overcrowding, as prison populations in most countries continue to grow.
The people who make up the populations of most prison systems have many characteristics in common. The populations of most prison systems are predominantly male – in England males outnumber females by 28 to 1 (although the nu m ber of women in prison is rising at a higher rate than the number of men) – and relatively young – nearly 70 percent of those in custody are under the age of 30. [To be in custody means to be kept in prison by the police until you go to court, because the police think you are guilty]. Most offenders in prison have a number of previous convictions; the offenses they have committed are most commonly burglary, theft, violence , or robbery. A similar picture is revealed by U.S. statistics; the most common offences for which prisoners are in custody are burglary and robbery. [Burglary is the crime of getting into a building to steal things. Violence is behaviour that is intended to hurt other people physically. Robbery is the crime of stealing things from a bank, shop etc, especially using violence].
imprisonment – тюремное заключение;
primarily – главным образом;
confinement – лишение свободы, закл ючение под стражу;
convicted person – осужденный;
transportation – транспортация (ссылать за моря как вид уголовного наказания);
abolition – отмена;
concern – забота, беспокойство;
predominantly – преимущественно;
violence – жестокость, насилие.