An enquiry into the various forms of punishments which were in practice in different societies through ages would reveal that forms of punishment were mainly based on deterrence and retribution which have lost their significance in modern penology. The primitive societies did not have well developed agencies of criminal justice administration therefore, settlement of private wrongs was entirey a personal matter and aggrieved party could personally settle the issue directly with the wrong-doer.
Blood-feud was one of the common modes of punishment in early societies which was regulated by customary rule of procedure. It was undoubtedly a retaliatory method which underlined the principle of lex talionis, meaning “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”. These blood-feuds sometimes led to serious clashes between the clans which made life extremely difficult.
Sometime later, restitution for injury through payment of money compensation was substituted for blood-feud. The quantum of compensation, however, varied depending on the nature of the offence and the age, sex or status of the victim.
With the advance of time, primitive societies gradually transformed into civil societies and the institution of kingship began to exercise its authority in settling disputes. Thus private vengeance fell into disuse giving rise to public disposition of wrong-doers. With the State assuming charge of administration of criminal justice, the process of public control of private wrongs started which eventually culminated into modem penal systems of the world. The institution of police as a law-enforcement agency and the court as justice dispensation mechanism developed only after crime and punishment became the matters of public control.