- In the Bible, the only prisons are in the empires: Joseph in an Egyptian prison, John the Baptist in a Roman prison, Peter and Paul in Roman prisons.
There was no prison system in Mosaic Israel. This was no accident. There were punishments in Mosaic Israel: restitution to the victim, whipping, and execution for certain crimes. But there were no prisons. Why not? Because there was no need. The criminal owed no debt to society.
If a person stole and then got caught, he paid double restitution to his victims (Exodus 22:4). He did not owe anything to society. He had not committed a crime against society. He owed money to his victims. ...
... The prison was supposed to reform men, to make them good. This was part of the Grand Idea: salvation by legislation. The public school system was part of this same messianic program.
Now that Grand Idea looks less than grand. The results are in. Mankind has not yet been reformed. Taxes are a lot higher. Crime rates are a lot higher. Literacy rates are a lot lower. But the bureaucratic heirs of the original reformers still serve as caretakers of a clearly botched series of systems.