The Criminal Justice system of the second half of the 19th century considered that the mere refusal of freedom was not punishment enough and thought up different ways of intensifying the pains of imprisonment. Their intensity made the hand crank and the tread wheel common features in prisons. The latter was a particularly cruel device, constructed of a series of steps on a huge wheel, which was to be turned around by the prisoner’s climbing motion. Not only was the work physically exhausting, but also it was also mentally grueling for the prisoners, as it produced absolutely nothing.
The only justification of this, in scarcely veiled torture” was to punish the prisoners. A medical and scientific committee was set up in the 1860s to decide the amount of labor that could be expected from the prisoners, and after rational deliberation, the experts concluded that prisoners sentenced to hard labor were to climb 8,640 feet per day. The impact of the medical profession on the prison, the medicalization of crime and punishment, gathered increasing momentum in the following decades. Compared to the worst excesses of the Criminal System in the 19th century, life inside has nowadays improved in some ways.
Ventilation and sanitation have changed the prison infrastructure, recreational options like sports, libraries etc have grown and prisoners have at last acquired some legal status. However, order and discipline are still prioritized over individual treatment. Riots, gangs, and HIV are pressing problems, and so are over-crowding in institutions often purpose-built to suit the ideals of 19th-century punishment: less than one-quarter of English prisons in use in the late 1970s were built in the 20th century. As emerges from an account of a prisoner of his experience in a US institution in the 1990s arguably the worst problem of life behind bars today is its purposelessness its dullness and monotony.
Most European police cooperation until the early 20th century also concerned political tasks related to the protection of established conservative rule from suspected rebellious political activities. Such was most clearly the case with the Police Union of the German States, an international police organization that was active from 1851 until 1866 to suppress the political opposition from liberals, Democrats, and The Police Union was able to attract cooperation only from police of seven German-language nations that were ideologically strongly similar and politically united in a common federal union. Other efforts to formalize cross-border police collaboration in the 19th century likewise remained too closely tied to the political conditions within and among national states to garner broad international support.