The function served by imprisonment varies according to the form of imprisonment and several forms of imprisonments have been developed overtime In the 21st century the focus on of the criminal justice system has experienced change as compared to its focused during the past centuries in the context of punishment and imprisonment. The main functions of imprisonment and punishments are retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, rehabilitation as well as restoration (Miethe 15).
Over the years the philosophies of punishment and imprisonment has experienced immense change and one of the earliest philosophies of punishment was retribution. The term retribution is based on the concept of revenge or in other words the philosophy of retribution states that an individual should as severely punished as compared to the severity of the crime he/she has committed (Miethe 16). This philosophy of punishment was very popular during the era of 19th century and was used as a basis of imprisoning those who have indulged in deviant acts. Basing sentencing period on the concept of retribution criminals who had committed severe crimes were sentenced to a longer period of time and the treatment they received during their sentence used to be quite harsh. Later other elements were even taken into consideration while sentencing an individual on the basis of retributive justice. These elements included the mental capacity of the criminal and those who were mentally incapable and involved in criminal activities were sentenced for a shorter period of time.
A second philosophy of crime is called incapacitation and this philosophy follows that individuals who have indulged in criminal activity should be physically restricted from committing crimes in future (Franklin 16).