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The purpose of prisons is to instill disciple and ethics to criminals and other law breakers before they are released back into the society. This process however is not simple because there are those “hard core criminals” who refuse to be guided and counseled. During and after the World War I and World War II, the prisons of the nations that participated in the combat were different. The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the prisons and prisoners during the World War II. It will focus on some of the nations that participated in the war and the changes that the war had on the prisons systems of the respective nations. The paper will begin by defining and examining the theory and ideal of a penitentiary. It will also look at the impact and involvement of prison labor during this time period and how the trend of prison labor since then.

Prisons Comparison and Contrast

According to North, before World War II the prisons of the nations that participated in the war were populated by hard core criminals, rapists and gangsters and the authorities had never had of prisoners of war (POW) (North, 2001).  During the war, the physically strong prisoners were trained and sent to the battle field to “defend” their nations; this meant that most prisons remain empty. This mostly affected the two super powers during that time; Germany and Britain. Fortunecity has observed that during the war, there was an increase in the number of prisons and prison camps because of the high number of prisoners of war being captured. For instance in Britain alone there more than 100 prison camps and they include; Toft Hall, Knutsford Cheshire, Comrie, Perth, Scotland, Barton Field Camp, Ely, Cambridgeshire, Butterwick, Yorkshire. It is estimated that most of these camps “welcomed” an average of 20,000 prisoners of war per month and it is for this reason that more and more camps were to be created to accommodate the enemies of the state.

One of the main differences between the prison camps that were set up during World War II and other prisons was the infrastructure set up. The prison camps had the following sections; the pill box, the Prison of War Barracks for the captives, latrines, ammunition stores where the prisoner’s weapons were stored, the canteen, the camp office, the chapel, kitchen and the guard barracks. From the above, it can be said that the captives were just prisoners of war and not criminals and therefore they were given better treatment and facilities as compared to the other inmates. In addition to that prisoners were sent to different camps depending on the rank in the military, the senior prisoners were sent to more secure camps because they possessed vital security information. The time that the prisoners of war spent in the camps depended on the negotiations between the concerned nations in order to exchange prisoners. As indicated in the paper, during the war most male prisoners were sent to the battle field and this meant that majority of inmates left behind were female. This meant that female took over all the errands that were ran by male prisoners before they were deported. It is also important to note that female filled up all the jobs that were left by men before they departed to war. The question that most people ask is, what impact did this have on the economy of the nations? Most women became empowered since they occupied powerful jobs that had been held by men. They also started to participate in politics and other male dominated occupations.

Several changes occurred after the war to both the prisoners and the prison camps in the various countries. The prison exchange program enabled most prisoners return to their home countries and the prison camps were either destroyed or converted into museums. For instance the Spandau Prison in Western Berlin which was demolished after its last prisoner of war passed on in 1987 (WAB, 2004). On a socio-economic perspective, some prisoners settled in their countries of captivity and they helped in rebuilding the nations that they had destroyed during the war.

Summation of the Paper

The general purpose of prisons is to act as correctional centers where criminals are rehabilitated; however during and after World War II, the role of prisons changed. Most of them acted camps for prisoners of war. This essay paper has focused on the role that prisons played during and after the World War II. It has mentioned some of the prisoners of war camps that were built during that time and also the number of prisoners they held. Another thing that the paper has looked at is the effects that the prisoners of war had on the economy of the nations that had high number of prisoners.

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