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The History and Romance of Crime. Prisons Over Seas von Griffiths, Arthur (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 01.09.2016
  • Verlag: anboco
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The History and Romance of Crime. Prisons Over Seas

It will hardly be denied after an impartial consideration of all the facts I shall herein set forth, that the British prison system can challenge comparison with any in the world. It may be no more perfect than other human institutions, but its administrators have laboured long and steadfastly to approximate perfection. Many countries have already paid it the compliment of imitation. In most of the British colonies, the prison system so nearly resembles the system of the mother country, that I have not given their institutions any separate and distinct description. No doubt different methods are employed in the great Empire of India; but they also are the outcome of experience, and follow lines most suited to the climate and character of the people for whom they are intended. Cellular imprisonment would be impossible in India. Association is inevitable in the Indian prison system. Again, it is the failure to find suitable European subordinate officers that has brought about the employment of the best-behaved prisoners in the discipline of their comrades: a system, as I have been at some pains to point out, quite abhorrent to modern ideas of prison management. As for the retention of transportation by the Indian government, when so clearly condemned at home, it is defensible on the grounds that the penalty of crossing the sea, the 'Black Water,' possesses peculiar terrors to the Oriental mind; and the Andaman Islands are, moreover, within such easy distance as to ensure their effective supervision and control. Nearer home, we may see Austria adopting an English method,-the 'movable' or temporary prison, by the use of which such works as changing the courses of rivers have been rendered possible and the prison edifices of Lepoglava, Aszod and Kolosvar erected, in imitation of Chattenden, Borstal and Wormwood Scrubs.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Seitenzahl: 500
    Erscheinungsdatum: 01.09.2016
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9783736412422
    Verlag: anboco
    Größe: 590 kBytes
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The History and Romance of Crime. Prisons Over Seas



First idea of riddance of bad characters-James I removes certain dissolute persons-Sale of criminals as indentured servants to American Colonies and West Indies-Prices and profits-American Revolution closes this outlet-Discoveries by Captain Cook leads to the adoption of Botany Bay as the future receptacle-First fleet sails March, 1787-Settlement made at Port Jackson, christened Sydney-Landing of convicts-Early labours-Famine and drought-Efforts to make community self-supporting-Assisted emigration a failure-General demoralisation of society-Arrival of convict ships and growth of numbers-Unsatisfactory condition of Colony.

News of the discoveries, by Captain Cook, of vast lands in the South Seas reached England just as the scheme of Penitentiary Houses had been projected by John Howard, the great philanthropist, to remedy and reform the abuses of gaol administration. Why embark on a vast expenditure to build new prisons when the entire criminal population might be removed to a distance to work out their regeneration under another and a brighter sky? The idea was singularly attractive and won instantly in the public mind. The whole country would be rid of its worst elements, the dregs and failures of society, who would be given a new opportunity in a new land to lead a new life and by honest labours become the prosperous members of a new community established by virtue. The banishment of wrong-doers had long appealed to rulers as a simple and effective means of punishment, combined with riddance.

The first actual record of transportation is in the reign of James I, when prisoners were conveyed to the youthful Colony of Virginia, where Cromwell had sent his political captives beyond the Atlantic to work for the settlers as indentured servants or assigned slaves. Early in the eighteenth century the penalty was regularly introduced into the British criminal code. An act in that year commented upon the inefficiency of the punishments in use and pointed out that in many of his Majesty's colonies and plantations in America there was a great want of servants, who, by their labour and industry, would be the means of improving and making the said colonies more useful to the nation. Persons sentenced nominally to death were henceforth to be handed over to the contractors who engaged to transport them across the seas. These contractors became vested with a right in the labour of convicts for terms of seven and fourteen years, and this property was sold at public auction when the exiles arrived at the plantations. The competition was keen and the bids ran high at a date prior to the prevalence of negro slavery. To meet the demand the pernicious practice of kidnapping came into vogue and flourished for half a century, when it was put down by law. The price paid according to the mercantile returns ranged at about Pds. 20 per head, although it appears from a contemporary record that for two guineas a felon might purchase his freedom from the captain of the ship. The condition of these "transports" was wretched, and contractors often complained that their cargoes of human beings were so damaged on the voyages, and the subsequent mortality was so great, that serious misgivings arose as to whether it was worth while to enter upon the traffic.

Suddenly the successful revolt of the American Colonies closed them as a receptacle for the criminal sewages of Great Britain. Another outlet must be found, and for a time convicts sentenced or liable to transportation were kept at hard labour in the hulks in harbours and arsenals at home. Then Captain Cook found Botany Bay in the antipodes, and for a long time after their inauguration public opinion ran high in favour of penal establishments beyond the seas. "There was general confidence," says Merivale, "in the favourite theory that the best mode of punishing

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