Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Robert P. Weiss
Hard labor is a punishment of ancient origin and widespread adoption. In the United States, the Pennsylvania General Assembly established the first hard labor sentence in the fall of 1786 by directing “motley crews” of prisoners to clean and repair public streets. Imprisonment at hard labor then became a common sentence in the 19th century, in the United States and in many European countries. Today, several penal systems enforce hard labor, officially and unofficially. China, for example, maintains a vast system of hard labor camps under its “reform through labor” system. The central feature of Japan's prison system is compulsory hard labor production for private sector industry subcontracting. While Russia no longer has the old gulag, it still maintains the tradition of penal labor camps. At the Russian Strict Regime Colonies, labor is compulsory and hard, although those who meet production quotas are paid. Hard labor has played an important ...