Ecclesiastical prison

Last updated
Scale of justice, canon law.svg
Part of a series on the
Canon law of the
Catholic Church
046CupolaSPietro.jpg Catholicismportal

It is plain from many decrees in the Corpus Juris Canonici that the Roman Catholic Church has claimed and exercised the right, belonging to a perfect and visible society, of protecting its members by condemning the guilty to imprisonment. The object of prisons originally, both among the Hebrews and the Romans, was merely the safe-keeping of a criminal, real or pretended, until his trial. The ecclesiastical idea of imprisonment, however, is that confinement be made use of both as a punishment and as affording an opportunity for reformation and reflection.

Clerical punishment

This method of punishment was anciently applied even to clerics. Thus, Boniface VIII (cap. "Quamvis", iii, "De poen.", in 6) decrees:

Although it is known that prisons were specially instituted for the custody of criminals, not for their punishment, yet we shall not find fault with you if you commit to prison for the performance of penance, either perpetually or temporarily as shall seem best, those clerics subject to you who have confessed crimes or been convicted of them, after you have carefully considered the excesses, persons and circumstances involved in the case.

The Church adopted the extreme punishment of perpetual imprisonment because, by the canons, the execution of offenders, whether clerical or lay, could not be ordered by ecclesiastical judges. It was quite common in ancient times to imprison in monasteries, for the purpose of doing penance, those clerics who had been convicted of grave crimes (c. vii, dist. 50). The "Corpus Juris", however, says (c. "Super His", viii, "De poen.") that incarceration does not of itself inflict the stigma of infamy on a cleric, as is evident from a papal pronouncement on the complaint of a cleric who had been committed to prison because he vacillated in giving testimony. The reply recorded is that imprisonment does not ipso facto carry with it any note of infamy.

Monastic prisons

As to monastic prisons for members of religious orders, we find them recorded in decrees dealing with the incorrigibility of those who have lost the spirit of their vocation. Thus, by command of Urban VIII, the Congregation of the Council (21 September 1624) decreed:

For the future, no regular, legitimately professed, may be expelled from his order unless he be truly incorrigible. A person is not to be judged truly incorrigible unless not only all those things are found verified which are required by the common law (notwithstanding the constitutions of any religious order even confirmed and approved by the Holy See), but also, until the delinquent has been tried by fasting and patience for one year in confinement. Therefore, let every order have private prisons, at least one in every province.

The crimes in question must be such as by natural or civil law would merit the punishment of death or imprisonment for life (Reiffenstuel, "Jus Can. univ.", no. 228). Innocent XII reduced the year required by the above-mentioned decree to six months (Decree "Instantibus", 2). A decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Council (13 November 1632) declares that a religious is not to be judged incorrigible because he flees from imprisonment, unless, after being punished three times, he should make a fourth escape. As the civil laws do not, at present, permit of incarceration by private authority, the Congregation on the Discipline of Regulars has decreed (22 January 1886) that trials for incorrigibility, preceding dismissal, should be carried out by summary, not formal, process, and that for each case recourse should be had to Rome. A vestige of the monastic imprisonment (which, of course, nowadays depends only on moral force) is found in the decree of Leo XIII (4 November 1892), in which he declares that religious who have been ordained and wish to leave their order cannot, under pain of perpetual suspension, depart from the cloister (exire ex clausura) until they have been adopted by a bishop.

See also

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Ecclesiastical Prisons"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.

LiteratureItalic text

Related Research Articles

Inquisition group of institutions within the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy

The Inquisition, in historical ecclesiastical parlance also referred to as the "Holy Inquisition", was a group of institutions within the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy. The Inquisition started in 12th-century France to combat religious dissent, in particular the Cathars and the Waldensians. Other groups investigated later included the Spiritual Franciscans, the Hussites and the Beguines. Beginning in the 1250s, inquisitors were generally chosen from members of the Dominican Order, replacing the earlier practice of using local clergy as judges. The term Medieval Inquisition covers these courts up to mid-15th century.

In English law, the benefit of clergy was originally a provision by which clergymen could claim that they were outside the jurisdiction of the secular courts and be tried instead in an ecclesiastical court under canon law. Various reforms limited the scope of this legal arrangement to prevent its abuse. Eventually the benefit of clergy evolved into a legal fiction in which first-time offenders could receive lesser sentences for some crimes. The legal mechanism was abolished in 1827 with the passage of the Criminal Law Act 1827

<i>Crimen sollicitationis</i> 1962 document of the Holy Office codifying procedures to be followed in cases of priests or bishops of the Catholic Church accused of having used the sacrament of Penance to make sexual advances to penitents

Crimen sollicitationis is the title of a 1962 document ("instruction") of the Holy Office codifying procedures to be followed in cases of priests or bishops of the Catholic Church accused of having used the sacrament of Penance to make sexual advances to penitents. It repeated, with additions, the contents of an identically named instruction issued in 1922 by the same office.

Clerical celibacy is the requirement in certain religions that some or all members of the clergy be unmarried. These religions consider that, outside of marriage, deliberately indulging in lustful thoughts and behavior is sinful; clerical celibacy also requires abstention from these.

Pelican Bay State Prison supermax state prison in California

Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) has the only supermax facility in the state of California. The 275 acre prison is located in Del Norte County, California. The prison takes its name from a shallow bay on the Pacific coast, about 2 miles (3 km) to the west. The prison lies in a detached section of Crescent City, several miles north of the main urban area and just south of the Oregon border. PBSP's primary purpose is to house violent male prisoners from the California state prison system; 40% of Pelican State's inmates are serving life sentences and nearly all have histories of violence at other California prisons which resulted in their transfer to Pelican Bay. The sole exception are the institution's minimum security inmates, who work as part of the prison's outside maintenance and firefighter programs.

Prison abolition movement movement to end incarceration as a means to address harm

The prison abolition movement is a loose network of groups and activists that seek to reduce or eliminate prisons and the prison system, and replace them with systems of rehabilitation that do not place a focus on punishment and government institutionalization. The prison abolitionist movement is distinct from conventional prison reform, which is the attempt to improve conditions inside prisons.

Prison reform attempts to improve penal systems, or implement alternatives to incarceration

Prison reform is the attempt to improve conditions inside prisons, improve the effectiveness of a penal system, or implement alternatives to incarceration. It also focuses on ensuring the reinstatement of those whose lives are impacted by crimes.

Religious vows promises made by members of religious communities

Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices, and views.

Plenary Councils of Baltimore Wikimedia list article

The Plenary Councils of Baltimore were three national meetings of Catholic bishops in the United States in 1852, 1866 and 1884 in Baltimore, Maryland.

A religious is, in the terminology of many Western Christian denominations, such as the Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion, what in common language one would call a "monk" or "nun", as opposed to an ordained "priest". A religious may also be a priest if he has undergone ordination, but in general he is not.

Clerics regular are priests (clerics) who are members of a religious order under a rule of life (regular). Clerics regular differ from canons regular in that they devote themselves more to pastoral care, in place of an obligation to the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours in common, and have fewer observances in their rule of life.

Perpetual curate class of resident parish priest or incumbent curate within the United Church of England and Ireland.

Perpetual curate was a class of resident parish priest or incumbent curate within the United Church of England and Ireland. The term is found in common use mainly during the first half of the 19th century. The legal status of perpetual curate originated as an administrative anomaly in the 16th century. Unlike ancient rectories and vicarages, perpetual curacies were supported by a cash stipend, usually maintained by an endowment fund, and had no ancient right to income from tithe or glebe.

Incapacitation (penology) One of the functions of punishment

Incapacitation in the context of criminal sentencing philosophy is one of the functions of punishment. It involves capital punishment, sending an offender to prison, or possibly restricting their freedom in the community, to protect society and prevent that person from committing further crimes. Incarceration, as the primary mechanism for incapacitation, is also used as to try to deter future offending.

Separate system prison system

The separate system is a form of prison management based on the principle of keeping prisoners in solitary confinement. When first introduced in the early 19th century, the objective of such a prison or "penitentiary" was that of penance by the prisoners through silent reflection upon their crimes and behavior, as much as that of prison security. More commonly however, the term "separate system" is used to refer to a specific type of prison architecture built to support such a system.

Vagrancy Condition of homelessness without regular employment or income

Vagrancy is the condition of homelessness without regular employment or income. Vagrants usually live in poverty and support themselves by begging, garbage scraping, petty theft, temporary work, or welfare.

Prison place in which people legally are physically confined and usually deprived of a range of personal freedoms

A prison, also known as a correctional facility, jail, gaol, penitentiary, detention center, correctional center, or remand center, is a facility in which inmates are forcibly confined and denied a variety of freedoms under the authority of the state. In some places in the United States, calaboose is used as a term for a one-room jail. Prisons are most commonly used within a criminal justice system: people charged with crimes may be imprisoned until their trial; those pleading or being found guilty of crimes at trial may be sentenced to a specified period of imprisonment. In simplest terms, a prison can also be described as a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed.

The Portuguese Penal Code was adopted in 1982 and has been revised on several occasions, most recently in 2007. It devotes a whole chapter on "crimes against human life". In fact, the very first crime addressed on that code is murder.

Prisoner person who is deprived of liberty against their will

A prisoner is a person who is deprived of liberty against his or her will. This can be by confinement, captivity, or by forcible restraint. The term applies particularly to serving a prison sentence in a prison. This term does not apply to defendants who are pre-trial.

Alternatives to imprisonment

The alternatives to imprisonment are types of punishment or treatment other than time in prison that can be given to a person who is convicted of committing a crime. Some of these are also known as alternative sanctions. Alternatives can take the form of fines, restorative justice, transformative justice or no punishment at all. Capital punishment and corporal punishment are also alternatives to imprisonment, but are not promoted by modern prison reform movements.

A censure, in the canon law of the Catholic Church, is a medicinal and spiritual punishment imposed by the church on a baptized, delinquent, and contumacious person, by which he is deprived, either wholly of in part, of the use of certain spiritual goods, until he recover from his contumacy.