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Prison Conditions in the Victorian Age

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Prison Conditions in the Victorian Age

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  • April 2013
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Prison Conditions in Victorian Era
Back in the Victorian Era, prisons were used as places to hold people in debt or for the ones accused waiting for trial (Victorian Prisons). For serious crimes usual punishment consisted of hanging and transportation, which meant convicted criminals were sent to different colonies around the world to serve their sentences (The National Archives). Criminal systems used transportation for a cheap alternative to hanging. By removing them from society, they only had to pay for the convicts' travel expenses. There was also the bonus of not having the convict in the society anymore. Hanging was another form of harsh punishment the citizens of the Victorian Era thought best. The way they looked at it was, the more time the criminal spends in prison the less crime will be brought back into their society. Prisons weren’t usually the first choice of punishment because they were run down and disorderly. Most crimes led to execution (The National Archives). Prisons were dark, dirty, and overcrowded, usually filled with people in debt (Victorian Prisons). People sent to prisons often had physical punishment and hard labor included with their stay (The National Archives). Each prison had a gaoler, or prison guard, that made up the rules for the prison. Dickens used Wemmick in Great Expectations to represent this, and had Jaggers show the flexibility of parliament and legislation and how easily laws could be bent in the justice system. Charles Dickens focused on prisons and justice systems because he himself had to go through the debtor’s prison system. People were piled in the prison, no matter their gender, age, or mental health (Victorian Prisons). Dickens portrays the prison and justice system very well in Great Expectations, describing the vast numbers of hangings and the way they treat prisoners when captured. he did not exaggerate at all because the actual amount of hangings and criminals transported were obscene....

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