There was no Criminal Law (or jails) in Ireland before the arrival of the Norman invaders. Instead, (as in other ancient pre-piscean systems), the emphasis was on compensating victims of wrong.
I suggest that, now as we leave the Piscean Age and enter the Age of Aquarius, we return to this focus.
In Criminal Law, the focus is on the perpetrator. In pre-piscean systems, the focus is on the victim.
The Criminal Law identifies specific actions, considered to be reprehensible, as offences, and sets out to punish people who take those actions. It requires two elements to be proven: (1) a criminal act and (2) a criminal intent.
Pre-piscean systems, instead, ask "was the complainant harmed by a wrongful act of the accused?" If the answer is "yes," then the victim is to be compensated. Criminal intent does come into it, but is not the primary question. If the wrongful act was intended to harm the victim, rather than an unfortunate result of careless behaviour, then the court could award increased compensation over and beyond the value of the actual harm suffered.
O, the ancient Irish Law did have categories and detailed descriptions of wrongful acts and many rules for calculating the appropriate compensation. But it was not confined, as is the Criminal Law, to specific defined criminal actions, but was always open to consider new forms of wrongful acts. Crimes were not defined by parliament, but wrongful acts were "discovered" by judges who applied the fundamental notions of right and wrong (often embodied in cryptic maxims composed by learned poets) found universally in human consciousness.
If an offender was unable to pay the compensation out of his/ her own resources, his family or close relations could pay it for him (and usually expect to be refunded by the offender). If his people failed to come up with the cash, the offender was bound to the victim, i.e., became his bonded servant. If the victim did not keep slaves himself, he could then sell the offender to a slave-master. A bonded servant could be bought out of slavery by somebody paying the compensation on his behalf.
The ancient world did not have the notion of paid employment. There were free-holders, free tenants, bonded tenants, professionals, tradesmen, and bonded servants. The modern equivalent of the ancient remedy would be a levy on the earnings of the offender or prisons which engage prisoners in wealth-creating employment.
There are two very readable, informative and short, books on the ancient Irish ("Brehon") system:
A Guide to Early Irish Law
The Lost Laws of Ireland
This post has been added to Krunchie's Manifesto.
Proinnsias - Krunchie As
"Proinnsias" sounds the same as "Krunchie as," except with a P instead of a K. I was christened "Francis Killeen," but adopted the Irish form of this name "Proinnsias Ó Cillín." ("Cillín," which means "treasure," sounds exactly the same as "Killeen"). Some people have difficulty pronouncing "Proinnsias," and some children in my neighbourhood called me "Krunchie," a nickname that stuck.