V Bailey English Prison Penal Culture

Topics: Prison, Penal colony, Penal labour Pages: 67 (17789 words) Published: January 7, 2015
English Prisons, Penal Culture, and the Abatement of Imprisonment, 1895-1922 Author(s): Victor Bailey
Source: Journal of British Studies, Vol. 36, No. 3 (Jul., 1997), pp. 285-324 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The North American Conference on British Studies

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English Prisons, Penal Culture,and the
Abatementof Imprisonment,1895-1922
Victor Bailey

The prison method is callous, regular and monotonous and produces great mental and physical strain. The deprivation of liberty is extremely cruel and if it is attended with treatment that deadens the spiritual nature and fails to offer any stimulus to the imagination, that coarsens and humiliates, then it stands condemned. (Arthur Creech Jones, conscientious objector, Wandsworth Prison, 1916-19)1

The nineteenth century was the century of the penitentiary. Public and physical punishments (from whipping to the death penalty) were gradually replaced by the less visible, less corporal sanction of imprisonment. By the start of the Victorian era, imprisonment was the predominant penalty in the system of judicial punishments. For every 1,000 offenders sentenced at higher and summary courts in 1836 for serious (or indictable) offenses, 685 were punished by imprisonment in local prisons.2 By midcentury, moreover, sentences of penal servitude in convict VICTORBAILEYis gratefulto the Universityof Kansasfor a GeneralResearchFund awardwhich made it possible to completethis article.He would also like to thankJohn Beattie,JoannaInnes,RandallMcGowen,ElaineReynolds,NancyScott,andMartinWiener for their valuablecommentson an initial draftof the article,the participantsof the Social HistorySociety conferenceat PutteridgeBury, Bedfordshire,January1994, who braved snow and ice to give me a critical audience,and the graduatestudentsin my modem Britishcolloquiaon whom the argumentswere first inflicted. I Papersof ArthurCreechJones,RhodesHouse Library,Oxford,MS BritishEmpire S 332, box 1, file 2, fols. 194-97, n.d.:manuscriptaccountof his thoughtsin Wandsworth prison;quotedwith permissionfrom Violet CreechJones.

2 In addition,
thirty-threewere punishedby death,twenty-onewere fined, and 245 were transported;
see Leon RadzinowiczandRoger Hood, TheEmergenceof Penal Policy, vol. 5 of A History of English Criminal Law and Its Administration from 1750 (Lon-

don, 1986), p. 777. In a move to privatizepunishment,publicexecutionswere abandoned in 1868; thereafter,hangingtook place behindprison walls; see V. A. C. Gatrell,The Hanging Tree: Execution and the English People, 1770-1868 (Oxford, 1994), pp. 589Journal of British Studies 36 (July 1997): 285-324

? 1997 by The NorthAmericanConferenceon BritishStudies.

All rights reserved. 0021-9371/97/3603-0002$02.00


This content downloaded from on Thu, 6 Nov 2014 08:37:47 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions



prisons were plugging the gap left by the end of transportationto Australia. The three hundred or so local prisons in the 1830s, to which offenders were sent for...
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