The Role of Religious Institutions

The Role of Religious Institutions Religious institutions, particularly of the Christian faith, were a dominant force in the regula- tion and punishment of criminal behavior in Europe. In the 1300s and 1400s, the church was considered the most important social institution, with criminal behavior characterized as a sin against God. The punishments, which included drowning, hanging, or being burned alive, were intended to rid the criminal of evil. The medieval punishments, used on juveniles as well, often had one thing in common: brutality. Some of the more torturous policies are listed in Spotlight: Torture Devices. Although there are few accounts of how many juveniles were put

iStockphoto/Thinkstock The Code of Hammurabi is the earliest collection of laws addressing criminal punishment, business, and the treatment of juveniles by their parents through legal procedure. This is a piece of the tablet itself from Babylon in 1750 BCE.

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to death or tortured through these means, historians indicate that death sentences were not uncommon for juveniles found guilty of minor criminal behavior.