I can see the benefit of fining someone.
I can see the benefit of making someone a temporary worker -- like a chain gang for mining, farming, or roadwork.
I can see the benefit of executing people who only hurt society. I'd like to see this increase greatly. Totally serious.
Giving people 3 hots and a cots for years? I wish we'd stop doing that.
This really only works when the criminal eventually acknowledges his guilt and feels remorse for his actions - which fewer and fewer crimnals do. He does not have guilt or remorse because he does not share the value system of the larger society, and the larger society increasingly has less and less of a consensus on what its values actually are.
Before the 1700s, the purpose of imprisonment was: a brief period of custody before execution, punishment for failure to pay monetary debts, dereliction of professional duties, monitoring individuals who were considered politically or ideologically dangerous, etc.
Thieves, rapists and smugglers were usually publicly humiliated, whipped and often branded or hobbled or set to hard labor. Murderers,spies, traitors and persistent recidivists of lesser crimes were usually executed.
Typically anyone who remained imprisoned for a long time instead of executed was a member of the highest ranks of the social elite.