October 07, 2016

Thursday Group Reading on Prisons

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/students/modules/hi398/timetable/seminar3/

Dear All,

Please could you read the following allocated text (see the link to the seminar page above). You will also find some questions on the page to help guide your reading.

Please post up a short summary of your reading/responses to any relevant questions by clicking on the Comment link below. EVERYONE must post up by Thursday at 9 am.

Yetende - Anne Brunon-Ernst

Oliver B - Thom Brooks

Charlotte - Michel Foucault

Louisa - D. Garland

Aksana - Christoper Harding

Izzy - Michael Ignatieff,A Just Measure of Pain

Oliver Rea-Jayson - Michael Ignatieff, ‘The Ideological Origins of the Penitentiary’

Beth - Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini

Lizzie - Michael Macilwee

Blessing - J. Muncie

Mikka - G. Peebles

Aleemat - Philip Priestley

Abi - B. Vaughan

Zoe - Lucia Zedner

James - Moore

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  1. Punishment – Introduction p1-13 – Thom Brooks
    • Brooks defines punishment in four ways:

    1. Punishment must be for breaking the law.
    2. Punishment must be of a person for breaking the law.
    3. Punishment must be administered and imposed intentionally by an authority with a legal system.
    4. Punishment must involve a loss.

    Aim and Distribution of Punishment
    • Herbert Hart gives a system that can be used to classify theories of punishment:
    1. The definition of punishment.
    2. The general justifying aim of punishment
    3. The distribution of punishment

    • Whilst most theories will all have the definitions of punishment roughly the same, the differences come when discussing the justifying aim of the punishment which is met through the distribution of punishment as a whole.

    Legal moralism and the harm principle

    • Legal moralism is linking the criminalisation of acts with their immorality.

    • Antony Duff: “The criminal law does not create wrongs: it does not make wrong what was not already wrong by criminalizing it. Rather, it declares certain kinds of pre-existing wrong to be public wrongs – wrongs that concern the whole polity.”

    • However, criminalising certain acts are problematic. e.g. lying. A lie in court or at an interview can result in justified prosecution or job loss. However not all lies in all circumstances are deemed immoral.

    • As a result, there must be a boundary between what immorality is criminalised and what isn’t.
    • Furthermore, what Is classed as immoral need a moral boundary to determine what actions meet the criteria. Abortion is an example that is immoral or moral purely depending on an individual’s personal moral boundary.

    • Crimes such as murder and rape are acts seen as wrong by most whether they are seen as crimes or not. They are known as mala in se crimes. Mala prohibita crimes are ones that are wrong because they are made a crime. Often public rather than moral wrongs, e.g. speeding.

    • David Boonin: “the problem of punishment is not the problem of figuring out how legal punishment can be legal. It is the problem of figuring out how legal punishment can be moral.”

    The Harm Principle
    • The Harm Principle: (according to John Stuart Mill) “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant”

    • The harm principle justifies the criminalization of acts where there are clear harms to others e.g. arson, rape, murder.

    • What is difficult is what is understood to be harm. Emotional distress falls into this.

    • Victimless crimes are seen as self regarding, whereas those involving harm to another are seen as other regarding.

    • Both this and the legal moralism approach fail to account for a wide group of crimes that are endorsed, despite being different approaches.

    Brooks’ closing statement: “The lesson learned here is that our discussion of crime and punishment should not presuppose that all crimes are immoral or that all crimes are harms, or at least harms to others.”

    Find extended notes here


    10 Oct 2016, 19:57

  2. Abi Wren

    - Extract looks at how citzenship can be defined and how this relates to punishment and how it can be used as a means of control.

    • Enquires whether modern practices of punishment are undergoing a transformation by investigating the effect that the development of citizenship has had upon modern punishment.

    • Punishment designed to underline their ‘conditional’ status as citizens.

    • Article argues that the ‘inclusionary’ aspects of punishment is waning as the conditions of citizenship are becoming ever more stringent.

    -Questions about nature of punishment in today’s society – is anything actually working?

    • Origins of modern punishment in England and Wales – what distinguished it was a desire to incorporate offenders rather than exclude them through execution or transportation.

    • Citizenship could only emerge if there was increasing identification among a people, a sympathy towards each other – this bond that provided the necessary cultural conditions for modern punishment to emerge.

    Importance of a collective conscience and shared value system of the people.

    • Punishment was exercised upon those with whom the middle classes felt a tentative link – not complete but conditional citizens.

    • ‘birth of a prison’ – late 18th c – focus on transformation, and rehabilitation.

    • Foucault → prison was a means of achieving a more effective punishment at a less cost through a process of continuous discipline. → normalisation.

    • Garland → connects punishment with the emergence of a particular kind of citizenship – political.

    Emergence of Citizenship

    • Citizenship as three distinct elements → civil, political, and social rights.
    • Civil → rights necessary for individual freedom -18th c.
    • Political → right to participate politically as a member of the electorate – 19th c.
    • Social → right to a full and healthy life as defined by society at that time – 20th c.

    • These do not follow on from one another in an evolutionary fashion, but form as a result of struggle.

    • Citzenship → ‘set of practices which define a person as a competent member of society and which as a consequence shape the flow of recourses to persons and social groups.

    • Consequently , citizenship is neither a fixed or an all-or-nothing state.

    • Punishment is not only a deterrent but is also deployed as a device for character-transformation

    • One of the greatest animating impulses behind modern punishment → desire to convert people into proper citizens.

    • Kalberg → states that the emergence of social trust and egalitarianism are essential foundations for modern citizenship

    12 Oct 2016, 15:54

  3. Zoe Zbrzezniak

    • Over 1/5 convicted of crime were women, they made 17% of daily local and convict prison population (now 4%)

    • Why women committed less crime? Contemporary views
    o There was an innate view that women were less ‘criminal’ than men because they were thought to be more honest so less likely to commit perjury, less competitive so less likely to steal or cheat, naturally chaste so less likely to commit sexual crime
    o Women denied the opportunity to commit crime as confined to the home- little time in public sphere, did not congregate in public, less pressure to drink and gambles which caused crimes- sociologist Frances Kellor. He also thought that as their role in public increased, so would their crime
    o Women kept out of prison by men’s chivalry – they get male sympathy

    • Why did women commit crime?
    o Women’s crime was often blamed on losing their natural vocation
    o Women’s crimes were often seen as resulting from their virtues; meeting of Social Science Association in 1866: in infanticide for example, women were motivated by virtue of shame and desire to save child from life of misery and the possibility of them turning to prostitution to survive.
     On the other hand, others in the meeting said it resulted from a lack of chastity
    • Because of these attitudes, women were viewed less as murders and dangerous to property, but as a moral menace

    • Stigmatisation of criminal women
    o Condemned more harshly than men because male attributes like drive, courage, agility which made up criminal activity made up masculinity too
    o Victorian femininity gave women a moralising role, and therefore women’s crimes contravened law and idealised social role
    o It was believed that innately women all had the capacity to fall, and when lacked self discipline, they would fall into depravity

    • Women in prison- local (example of Tothill Fields)
    o Very difficult to segregate prisoners, in Tothill Fields separate cells were available for only 240/430 women (daily average)
    o Mainly committed for drunkenness
    o Before 1865 women are locked up for up to 12 hours a day in small, unlit, unheated and badly ventilated cells
    o Labour
     Tried to find ‘feminine labour’ for women- knitting, straw plaiting, bonnet making.
    o Chapel
     1 prisoner “if the chaplains could make any impression upon them when they got sober, the moment they got outside, it was drowned in drunken riot”
    o Punishment
     Femininity ruled out many punishments applied to men- women never whipped, rarely given handcuffs
     Chesterton “what a blessing it would be if we could emply some stout armed women to give them the rod”
     For women, restricting food was imposed, or guards resorted to more psychological punishments like ignoring them

    • Women in Prison- convict prisons
    o Milbank and Brixton, different classes to go into depending on behaviour – The Progressive Stage System
    o The Probationary Class (4 months for women, 9 for men) was solitude, Third Class (slightly less harsh)- both of these in Milbank. Then move to Brixton- which was said to be more relaxed. Then Second Class where women could exercise outside, then First Class in Fulham for last 12 months of sentence.
     First class was v different to male. Joshua Jebb, Prison Chairman of Board feared women wouldn’t be able to withstand severity of men’s incarceration. They had lighter discipline.
     First class was meant to prepare women for outside world. Training in house work, cooking, women associated together. Because prison was smaller this could happen, whilst not in man’s prison because less risk.
     Men were forced in silent submission, whilst Fulham for women was applied a ‘softening and civilising’ approach to help women gain more self-respect to lead an honest life
    • There is a bigger focus on restoring women to their idealised role

    12 Oct 2016, 16:06

  4. James Groom

    • Context – Alexander Maconochie, inventor of the ‘mark system’ of reformative penal discipline, was appointed by the Birmingham magistrates as the governor of the borough’s newly constructed prison.
    • Basic concept – tells the story of the two years Maconochie spent at Birmingham prison, highlighting the illegal and abusive practices that he introduced there.
    • Basic argument – despite the reformative rhetoric portraying his approach to penal discipline as benevolent and humanitarian, Maconochie’s regime relied heavily on coercion and corporal punishment.

    • Maconochie is seen as benevolent by a lot of people due to the ‘mark system’ that he invented → M J Weiner argues that the mark system was ‘an innovative contribution to penal theory which sought to establish the primacy of reformation within state punishment’
    • Maconochie’s marks system main points:
    1) Advocated that the reform of the individual lawbreaker, rather than deterrent and retributive objectives, should be the primary aim of state punishment.
    2) Criminals should be subject to task sentences rather than time sentences
    3) Drawing on contemporary discourses about political economy and slavery Maconochie argued that work undertaken voluntarily was certain to produce ‘the greater productiveness’. Compulsion, he argued, generated ‘a disgust towards labour’ and ‘a direct interest inidling’. Put simply, he argued, a prisoner ‘will do for liberty what they will not do for lashes’

    • Maconochie was told/advised that his system would not be accepted under the current laws. → Maconochie told the royal commission that he believed the mark system:
    ‘might be modified so as to meet my object sufficiently well…giving small rewards for good conduct, as well as inflicting small punishments for bad, was a modification that I should have been prepared to make, and to which I looked forward with very sanguine hopes’.
    • The Birmingham magistrates agreed to insert a clause drawn up by Henry Smith ‘authorizing the magistrates to vary the diet of the prisoners, under certain circumstances’. This was intended to allow Maconochie to make short-term prisoners, and in particular vagrants, work for their food. Maconochie continued to agitate for discretion and the opportunity to carry out experiments. This resulted, in early 1850, in the magistrates authorizing Maconochie to introduce a modified mark system for the boys under sixteen

    • Central to Maconochie’s writings on state punishment was a strong conviction that prisoners could be motivated to labour voluntarily, through a careful crafting of rewards and penalties. However, for the boys who were subjected to his experimental regime, he found himself increasingly resorting to corporal sanctions to force them to work.
    • Moore uses a number of examples to show that there are a number of cases whereby Macoonochie event went against the judgements of the justices and without authority gave punishments to boys which seemed very excessive such as six lashes morning and evening, till they become quite obedient’.
    • Moore goes even further to show that Maconochie’s system he implemented at Birmingham did not work by suggesting his resort to using the whip to force child prisoners to labour epitomizes just how far Maconochie’s practice had moved away from the principles that underpinned his theory.
    • After 9 months of the experiment – the system was cross-examined – deemed a failure
    • Although Maconochie is represented in the literature as a benevolent reformer, in contrast to his sadistic successor, William Austin, the reality was very different. → In his two years in charge of the prison Maconochie recorded administering 1,312 punishments; his successor, Austin, authorized 947 punishments
    • The roots of the suicide that was to occur in 1853 Edward Andrews after being subjected to illegal punishments, lie firmly in Maconochie’s ‘reformative’ regime between 1849 and 1851

    12 Oct 2016, 16:59

  5. The Prison and the Factory by Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini is an English translation of an originally Italian text, written in 1979. Following the Italian prison crisis of the 1960s, Melossi and Pavarini wanted to explore the very phenomenon of the prison and why this institution has become so dominant in almost all societies worldwide. Evident in the title, the text explores the link between the workhouse and the prison, using a Marxist interpretation as they explore the rise of capitalism and development of the workhouse/modern prison. The introduction sets out their main argument that the format and rise of the workhouse was an effort by the bourgeoisie to control the increasing proletariat.
    Initially, they explore society before capitalism and thus modern prisons, citing that deprivation of liberty was not maintained as such a punishment in feudal society. One reason for this was the overwhelming presence of the church in everyday life during the medieval era. Rather than detainment, the loss of certain assets was used a punishment, whether that be money, impact on status or even life. They also reference ‘Espiato’, this idea of divine chastisement where punishment had to repress to transgressor in a spectacular and cruel way in order to prevent future crime committers. The church, however, were also responsible for introducing the first embryonic forms of prisons, with confinement within monasteries, but again, labour played no place in this form of punishment and the time spent paralleled to penance rather than the fair removal of liberty.
    Melossi furthers the arguments raised by Rusche and Kirchheimer in Punishment and Social Structure (1939) pursuing a Marxist analysis of the relationship between the labour market and the prevailing forms of punishment. Melossi argues that the end of feudalism and the movement and increase of proletariat from the countryside into the towns produced an increase in beggars, vagrants and in some cases bandits. Manufacturers could not absorb the proletariat quick enough, leading to tense social relations. Melossi views the workhouse not as a place of production but rather a place for teaching the discipline of production, using low wages to oppress and command obedience. He also refers to ‘general prevention’ whereby the free labourers were intimidated into accepting the general conditions of life due to the fear of the workhouse or prison. One particular quote about 17th century workhouses illustrates Melossi’s view of the object and purpose of both factories and modern prisons:
    ‘to ensure the suppression of a world of productive capabilities and instincts in order to concentrate upon that minute part of the individual useful to the capitalist work process.’
    The view of the workhouse as a bourgeoisie attempt to control the ever-growing proletariat is useful because this can be applied to the modern day structure of prisons, a set of rules and laws that allow a capitalist society to operate successfully.

    12 Oct 2016, 17:42

  6. Aleemat

    Priestly, Victorian Prison Lives, Chapter One: Into Prison

    • Newgate and the English Prison System
    o 1873 there were two distinct prison systems in England and Wales
    • The older of the two was used by the counties and the shires since the 12th Century by the justices of the peace
    o The conditions of prisons were dirty and disorderly
    • Places like Newgate were laissez-faire in their finances and prisoners were often left hungry
    - Then we have the system of transportation put forth by central government
     Transportation was the substitute for death, which was the nominal sentence for a lot of sentences into the 19th century
     However, as these colonies began to grow and develop, they drew in non-criminal immigrants and they began to resent having criminals sent to them
    - Criminals were then docked at the Thames in decommissioned navy vessels or ‘hulks’ which, due to their cramped quarters, were often in worse conditions than places like Newgate
    o This helped followers of John Howard, Jeremy Bentham to push for the construction of a government sanctioned permanent national penitentiary in London
     Milbank was west along the Thames and opened in 1816 as a reformatory preparation for subsequent banishment of convicts
     However, due to things like architecture and regime, Milbank was not a success
    - Then we have the new ‘model penitentiary’ at Pentonville and the eventual creation in 1853 of a specific prison sentence to replace transportation (penal servitude)
    • The Prisons Act of 1877 transferred control of local prisons to central government
    • Sir Joshua Jebb proposed the ‘silent’ system design for penitentiaries
     Individual cells of solitary confinement. Solitary, however, did not work as some prisoners went insane
    • The rival philosophy was to have the prisoners be solitary at night but then congregate during the day in strict enforced silence for work and worship
    • Later under Edmund DuCane both were discarded and the creation of the system of ‘salutary terror’
    • Police Cells
    • They smelled like a urinal, were dark and very dirty
    • Black Maria
    o The transport van for between court-houses and the prisons
    • Big enough for twenty but mostly took upwards of thirty people
    • The interior conformed to the principles of separate confinement adopted for penitentiaries
     Each cell was very small and ledged provided to sit were very narrow
    • Identification
    o Prison staff took physical descriptions of newly arrived prisoners to be included in official records
    • Reception, Bath, Prison Dress and Hair
    o Prisoners were required to surrender all personal property, remove their clothes to be searched and then bathed
    o The Leicester jail was a leaden bath, shallow and separated by walls of corrugated iron with holes that meant you could see the bather in the next “bath”
    • The water was dirty because of the design of the bath
     Everyone used the same water and women not excused from it
    o There was no uniformity in prison wear
    o Hair of both men and women was sheared to the nape of the neck, almost a form of degradation
    o Your name was replaced with a number on an iron plate
    • Medical examination
     The doctor’s duty was to pronounce prisoners as fit for hard labour, light labour, the hospital or the observation cell
    • The Rules
    o I took about three-quarters of an hour to read the rules and often inmates had forgotten them by the time they reached the last but they knew that every rule contained a punishment clause
    • A rule that stuck was to salute the Governor when you saw him

    12 Oct 2016, 18:40

  7. Michael Ignatieff, ‘The Ideological Origins of the Penitentiary’ – p37-59.

    • Ignatieff places a focus throughout on prison reformer John Howard
    • Howard conceived a convict’s process of reformation in terms similar to the spiritual awakening of a believer at a Quaker meeting
    • By the end of the seventeenth century, the Quakers began to turn from discipline as a collective statement of apartness to discipline as an instrument of control over other
    • Howard’s closest friend and eventual co-adjutor on the penitentiary commission of 1779 was the Quaker Physician John Fothergill
    • Fothergill was drawn to prison reform, not simply because he was a Quaker, but also because he formed part of a group of medical men who were revolutionising the practice of institutional hygiene and management in hospitals
    • Early prison reformers owed much of their conceptual framework to hospital reformers: Thomas Percival, John Coakley Lettsom, David Hartley, and Jonas Hanway
    • Jonas Hanway described crime as a disease ‘which spreads destruction like a pestilence’. Like the doctors he saw crime issuing from the same source as disease, from the squalid, riotous, and undisciplined quarters of the poor
    • Prisons too were breeding grounds of pestilence and crime alike. In the wards of Newgate, the ‘contagion’ of criminal values was passed from hardened offender to novice
    • Like the hospital, the penitentiary was created to enforce a quarantine both moral and medical. Behind its walls, the contagion of criminality would be isolated from the healthy, moral population outside
    • Appearing as it did in 1777, Howard’s ‘The State of the Prisons’ was swept up in the general clamor for reform
    • Howard advocated a regime of solitary confinement, hard labour and religious instruction. The objective of imprisonment, he believed, was reform and rehabilitation, not just punishment
    • Materialists like Bentham asserted that men could be improved by correctly socializing their instincts for pleasure
    • Howard believed men could be changed by awakening their consciousness of sin
    • For Howard, criminals were not defective machines but lost souls estranged from god
    • The reformers were insistent that physical punishments like whipping, as well as the squalor of prisons, were eroding respect for law among offenders and the general public at large
    • The prison reformers believed that punishment had lost its moral authority among the poor because those who inflicted it had been allowed unlimited discretion
    • Prisons had degenerated into squalid nurseries of crime because magistrates had failed to enforce explicit rules regarding discipline, hygiene, and hard labour. Corruption, favouritism, and cruelty flowered in prisons because the keepers’ authority was not kept in check by rules and inspections. In place of ‘unregulated discretion’ the reformers proposed to substitute ‘mild government by rule’
    • In Howard’s mind, rules were supposed to apply to the staff no less than to the prisoners
    • Half of the new rules he proposed were directed against trafficking, verbal abuse, fee taking, or physical acts of cruelty by staff
    • They also laid out a sequence of custodial tasks, inspection tours, roll calls, out a sequence of custodial tasks, inspection tours, roll calls, bed checks, and night patrols
    • Reformers proposed that quarterly inspections by magistrates become mandatory
    • Bentham placed both prisoner and guard alike under the constant surveillance of an inspector patrolling in the central in the central inspection tower
    • Ignatieff concludes that as the result of urgency of reform in the decade of the 1770s, had Howard’s ‘State of the Prisons’ been published at any other time, figures outside the small circle of reforming dissenters might have been disposed to dismiss it as a worthy but tedious tract. Instead, it appeared at a moment of acute crisis in the administration of criminal justice

    12 Oct 2016, 19:23

  8. David Garland, ‘The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society’
    • Approach – Believes in modern society there is an obliviousness to the historical processes by which prisons emerged, and a complacency to accepting things as they are, pointing to a ‘discomfort’ at certain practises but rarely surprise. His approach is geared towards a ‘history of the present’, which is analytical and not archival.
    • Deals with three key aspects;
    o Historical – Implies there has been a recent reversal of the historical pattern which began in the Victorian era, as the ‘penal welfarism’ that originated in this period has given way to harsh punitive methods Garland describes as ‘archaic’.
    o Penological – orthodoxy and stability of crime control theory consistent until 1970’s, when the habitus (see Pierre Bourdieu) of trained professionals became ineffective. Aims not to ‘smooth the system’s functioning’, but to open up changes in the system to informed criticism.
    o Sociological – crime control interlocks with spheres such as the labour market, legal system and welfare state. Argues changes will trigger transformations in these contiguous structures.
    • ‘Too often our attention focuses on the state’s institutions and neglects the informal social practises on which state action depends’.
    • Garland goes onto highlight the most important indicators of change, which while approaching from a modern perspective, also helps to shed light on Victorian conventions;
    o ‘Decline of rehabilitative ideal’, coined by Francis Allen, cornerstone of Victorian system.
    o Victorian systems more averse to harsher sentencing, post-1970’s saw return to public shaming (e.g sex offenders register).
    o Shift to dramatizing crime and provoking fear, in comparison to ‘confident progress in combatting crime and rationalising criminal justice’.
    o Penal welfarism saw little attention paid to victims, now laws named after victims, new collective meaning of victimhood results in vengeful justice.
    o Used to rely on experts, now legal system is politicised and populist.
    o Historical focus on crime has perceived it as due to deprivation, extraordinary circumstances, now woven into fabric of everyday life.
    o Shift in policing being a matter for the state to private security, commercialisation.
    • Garland points out key methodological points to remember when studying crime; ‘do not mistake short term changes for long term action’ or mistake ‘talk for action’, ‘do not lose sight of the long term’. Foucault points out error of seeing your personal point in history as unique, a break from the past, new beginning.
    • Key argument – Study of crime and control helps understand the more general trends of governance, society, and social order, since all overlap.

    12 Oct 2016, 20:10

  9. G. Peebles, ‘Washing Away the Sins of Debt’

    The article explores the debate surrounding debtors’ prison in the early 19th century. The relationship between creditor and debtor was seen as ‘barbaric’ and out of touch with ‘reasoned capitalism’. The nature of the prison itself was also deemed to be non-conducive to contemporary capitalist values.

    Three discourses emerged at the time to tackle the problem:
    1. There was an insistence that the justice system take a more scientific approach to distinguish between debtors who simply fell to misfortune and those who deserved to be punished for their wrong-doing.
    2. The second point was more directly related to liberal capitalist values of deferred gratification and financial saving. Debtors’ prisons was seen to isolate prisoners from commercial, working life, while at the same time encouraging a present-oriented or instant gratification style of living, associated with ‘economic traditionalism’. The prison system needed to be revised in order to turn prisoners into ‘civilised’ future-oriented savers who could participate successfully in a capitalist society.
    3. There was a distinct division between money and the body. It was viewed as an abhorrent practice to treat the body as a commodity that could be seized in the event that a debtor failed to fulfil their financial obligations. Instead, it was argued that the law should be directed at the individual’s property.

    As the movement progressed, Peebles explains that debtors’ prison was replaced by The Rules, which allowed the prisoners more physical ‘freedom’. Eventually, the nation-state took over, ‘becoming a zone of custodial surveillance’ in itself. While, the closure of the debtors’ prison and the more understanding approach to the causes of poor debt management appeared to be somewhat philanthropic, the events could have had more to do with the advance of capitalism. That is, the removal of a space which was seen as a ‘sanctuary’ from capitalist market relations was a step forward in ensuring that all members of society engaged in the logical and civilised economic lifestyle of the time.

    12 Oct 2016, 20:25

  10. Michael Macilwee, The Liverpool Underworld
    Capital Punishment
    - Public hangings were hoped to deter others from crime, however reformers wished to ban public execution as it was more of an entertainment than a deterrent.
    - In 1868 public hangings were abolished as they had become a circus and ironically attracted more crime e.g. drunkenness and disorderliness as well as prostitution.
    - Between 1787 and 1857 160,000 prisoners had been transported to Australia, mostly men.
    - Convicts were put to work and once their sentence was up could seek paid employment
    - Macilwee questions success of transportation as a deterrent, life in Australia provided the poor of Britain with many new opportunities
    - From the 1850s onwards transportation was beginning to be replaced with long term penal sentences with hard labour, this along with decline in public hangings/flogging/ use of stocks shifted the deterrent from public humiliation to private sphere of the prison


    - Prisons toughened up from 1850s onwards, solitary confinement came into play as well as the implementation of hard labour e.g. treadmill – very physically gruelling. Not very effective as prisoners would avoid stepping on at the right time to make it turn or refuse and be sent to solitary confinement which was seen as preferable.
    - Big question in nineteenth century was whether prisons should be place of reform/punishment, liberal/severe, give work skills/promote repetitive mindless work like the treadmill
    - Paradox between trying to keep prisons humane enough that they could instil civilised values into prisoners minds while not being too comfortable as to avoid being a deterrent
    - Although prisons were tough, often they weren’t as tough as conditions on the outside for the poor. Irish would escape famine-torn Ireland and commit crimes in Liverpool to be put in prison as meals were at least regular.
    - From 1865 this tightened up again and prisons became much more severe forms of punishment – reversed in 1895, Gladstone Commission conceded that oppressive prison regimes did not work and after that more liberal policies including probation and aftercare. Prison Act of 1898 abolished use of treadmill and crank and reduced physical punishments for breaking rules. Founding of specialist detention centres for alcoholics and feeble minded saw first attempts to replace punishment with care.
    Ticket of Leave
    - By mid-19th century prisons were becoming increasingly too full so non-custodial sentences such as Ticket to Leave became imperative
    - Many critics of this system, prisoners would rip up their licences, if caught committing another crime would claim it was their first and lie about home addresses – very difficult to prove otherwise.
    - At the same time in 1870s, Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso argued that criminals have specific characteristics, both physical and psychological, which was used in arguments that punishment should fit criminal and not crime.
    Persistent Offenders
    - Persistent offenders were becoming more and more of a problem in the railway age as offenders could travel around the country with ease, committing crime in different places whilst omitting any previous offences as this was before the age of central records and photographs.
    - Towards end of 1860s, policies were being introduced to deal with reoffenders. The Habitual Criminals Act of 1869 and Prevention of Crime Act 1871 required prisoners to register with police after release.
    - The growing tendency of placing importance on the criminal rather than the crime led to a whole host of methods introduced in 1860s to identify repeat offenders. A national database was created including distinguishing marks, tattoos, body measurement. This had its limits though and not until introduction of fingerprinting in early 20th century was identification of criminals highly successful.

    12 Oct 2016, 23:19

  11. Beyond Foucault : New Perspectives on Bentham’s Panopticon

    • Foucault believed that Jeremy Bentham was more important to understanding society than the like of Kant or Hegel
    • The Foucault-Bentham relationship is based upon Foucault’s interpretation of Bentham and the influence of Bentham’s utilitarianism
    • There are 2 schools of thought concerning Bentham:
    1. AUTHORTARIAN: believe that Bentham was the master of authoritarian state control
    2. LIBERAL: believe that Bentham promotes the rule of via the promotion of civil and political rights
    • Despite the apparent divergence in thought, Bentham believed in both (Elie Harvey, 1901)
    • This was mirrored in his Panopticon

    • For Foucault, ‘panopticism’ describes Bentham’s utilitarianism
    • He also believed that Bentham thought of prisoners and paupers as sub-human, but recent study (form the 1990s) gives a more balanced view:
     Panopticon was fair to the system and the inmates
     Bentham himself thought of it as humane and designed it along utopian lines (as opposed to Foucault, may have misunderstood his works which also appears to have resulted in him placing the panopticon at the center of Bnetham’s penal theory)
    • Bentham’s penal theory: panopticism, punishment, and judicial evidence
    • Foucault’s misunderstanding was also based on the quest for truth and where to find it (not through examination [panopticon] but inquiry [judicial system])
    • Inherent contradictions in interpretations of Bentham’s works:
     Attractive yet repulsive
     ‘proto Big Brother’
     Possibly due to Foucauldian distortion
    • The panoptic paradigm can transcend the prison eg. – constitution; workhouse; poor house – due to its ambitions for social control / to the ends of a global panoptic society possibly (source of debate – could only be a remedy for misrule)
    • The authors and editor endeavour to
     uncover the real meaning and legacy of Jeremy Bentham,
     rehabilitate both Bentham and Foucault’s respective theories (political and ‘panopticism’) to each others readers
     and go beyond the image of the Panopticon as a ‘dark disciplinary technology of power’

    12 Oct 2016, 23:52

  12. Izzy Lock

    Michael Ignatieff, A Just Measure of Pain: The Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution, 1750-1850
    This book explored the development of the punishment system and its evolution throughout this period from discipline “directed at the body” to punishment “directed at the mind”. Ignatieff discusses how ‘prisons raise the issue of the morality of state power’ and goes on to question whether force meant state and social order.


    Pentonville was a ‘controversial’ prison built in England, 1842, dubbed a ‘palace for felons’ (Charles Dickens and Thomas Carlyle). Pentonville used a new discipline of silence and solitude which went on to form the model of a new European prison landscape. Pentonville involved a rigorous routine of work, meals, chapel, exercise, inspection and lights out and had many restrictions inflicted upon them such as limited visiting hours, uniforms. Those who misbehaved or attempted any kind of contact with each other could be sent to the dark cells in the basement. Convicts were regularly driven to suicide and madness while serving their time, each year 5-15 men were taken to the asylum and if they remained insane, they remained there for the rest of their lives. If recovered, they would return to Pentonville to finish their sentence – madness was not an escape from punishment.
    This idea of the “total institution” first emerged in the 1770s, experimenting with various modes of discipline.

    18th century punishment

    Confinement in this period declined and other forms of punishment such as whipping, branding and stocks assumed their place as penalties. Confinement was only really used during times of high unemployment or population increase and so prison workers could aid the reconstruction of the state’s economy and structure.
    1720s crime wave brought about the emergence of poorhouses/workhouses/’Houses of Industry’
    1770s was a period of ‘decisive acceleration’ of the total institution.
    Prior to 1775, imprisonment was only used for minor crimes and sentences were relatively short. Major crimes called for death, particularly as a result of new acts such as the Riot Act and Black Act which re-established previously lesser punishable crimes as capital.
    Judges often granted mercy for punishments and so flexibility was common within the justice system.
    Transportation to the Americas and Australia was a common punishment also.

    Public punishments acted as a theatre for the people. Whipping and pillory were open rituals where criminals would spend an hour enduring abuse or mercy from crowds. These also then acted as deterrents and so eradicated the need for an expensive system of confinement. However with time, these public acts began to lose confidence of the general public and gave the law ‘an image of severity that compromised its authority in the eyes of the poor.’ This led to the abolishment of branding in 1779. Imprisonment then gave the state control over the offender and regulated the amount of suffering of any sentence, away from the populace.

    The Penitentiary Act of 1779 followed where prisoners were put to hard labour and solitary confinement. The prisoner was now ‘bound to silence. Even if he or she did cry out, there was no one to listen.’


    Ignatieff concludes by announcing that ‘reform was a success’ but does not credit the decline in crime rates to be a direct cause of penitentiary prisons but instead due to the rise in real wages among the working class. Therefore it raises the question in his argument as to whether it can be argued that they had any real effect on crime at all? How can we be sure?
    He claims that the primary reason penitentiary prisons were favoured was as a response to the whole social crisis of the period and as part of a larger strategy to establish order.

    13 Oct 2016, 00:05

  13. Aksana Khan

    Was the Victorian penitentiary experiment a failure?
    Harding argues that the late Victorian policy-makers perceived that their prison regime failing because it did not reform the ‘professional’ class of criminals. This is because the traditional blueprint of punitive punishment (of ‘useless’ labour and confinement) was in place. As a result, the publication of Gladstone’s Committee report in 1895 led to a revolution in ensuring better social control through a welfarist approach. By the end of the period, there were calls for prisons to reform the characters of its inmates. Although in the immediate aftermath of the report there was ‘the removal of hard, useless labour and the introduction of more association among prisoners’ (pg 607).

    Why this report?
    1. It was an ‘attack’, with ‘the implicit charge that it was a penal failure: that it was an inadequate response to the continuing problem of crime, and moreover that the existing prison regime could itself contribute to the development of criminal behaviour.’ (pg 593)
    2. There were qualms regarding the prison regime, not the prison administration. This report led to the resignation of Edmund du Cane, the Director of Convict Prisons. Historiographically, du Crane has become the symbol of the Victorian punitive approach of a regime of ‘hard fare, hard labour and hard bed’ (pg. 592). As a result, this report is seen as seeing to ‘longer term, a far-reaching structural change’, culminating to the 1908 Prevention of Crime Act and the eventual reformative regime of the prison system.

    Why was the Committee particularly concerned over the ‘professional’ class of criminals?
    The reformist approach would not have come about if, the following 3 strands of data were not placed under scrutiny: prison population, indicated crime rates; recidivists. Statistics were employed to empirically show the failures of old way. The committee looked into the misleading declining rate given for the prison population*, alongside with the increased awareness of crime (as there is a more efficient court and policing system, as well as cooperative public). This fed the view that recommital rates of prison were high because prison did not deter recidivists. Those who sat in the committee had the view that the penal system perpetuated a cycle: where the criminal offends; then is prosecuted; the criminal goes back into society without having reformed their ways; criminal offends again.

    Was there a crisis in the penal system to trigger this report?
    According to Harding, there was an exaggerated sense of crisis which triggered the report and subsequent reforms. This exaggeration owed to how at the heart of their dispute, du Crane and the penal system, did not fit into the ‘amerliorative creed’ in government domestic policy. This term, coined by Radzinowicz and Hood, covered the belief that to solve crime, there should be more social regulation and control over the workplace, with children, inebriety, mental deficiency and so on. This fits into Foucault’s theory, that the Victorian penitentiary was considered a failure because ‘in terms of disciplinary objectives and for purposes of extending the mesh of social control, imprisonment was under-utilized.’ (pg. 601).
    o This difference in approach was felt as Du Cane closed prisons, reduced the penal population and there was a diversion of young offenders to other institutions.

    *The Committee examined the prison population number because it showed the number of successful convictions. The numbers given were low in relation to the growing population, thus giving the view that there were less criminals. However, this low number owed to how courts gave offenders shorter sentences. Penal servitude ‘fell from 48 days in I88o to 34 days in I893, a reduction of 29 % over that period’ (pg. 594). Shorter sentences gave the impression that crime was reducing and that there was less of a need for punitive imprisonment.

    13 Oct 2016, 08:41

  14. Charlotte Beesley

    Michael Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

    Foucault starts by addressing an order published at the end of the seventeenth century which gave measures to be taken when the plague first appeared in a town. Many rules and actions are stated including; strict spatial partitioning, closing the town completely, leaving the town resulting in being executed, necessities to kill all stray animals (in fear of harbouring disease), and the town being placed under strict control of one syndic (government official). The majority of the first part of the reading simply outlines this order and gives details as to what family’s must do in way of protecting themselves but also states what happened as a result; literary fiction around the plague rose. The ‘ritual’ also took prominence in light of lepers, their illnesses and peoples opinions and judgements of them, linking quickly to times of intense plague as these persons were seen to be the most affected.
    Foucault interestingly and in my opinion correctly states after this segment on the leper that, ‘All the mechanisms of power which, even today, are disposed around the abnormal individual, to brand him and to alter him, are composed of those two forms from which they distinctly derive’.

    How do the plagues of early times link to the birth of the prison?
    At this point in the reading we’re nearly 10 pages in and there isn’t a mention of a prison, I was wondering where it would appear. Yet Foucault links this idea of the abnormal being subject to complete control (the leper) to the idea that prisoners are also subject to complete control, i.e. ‘the inmate will constantly have before his eyes the tall outline of the central tower from which he is spied upon’, yet also that, ‘the inmate must never know whether he is being looked at at any one moment, but he must be sure that he may always be so’.

    Foucault states that this almost master/servant relationship of the prison/inmate is a mechanism of the upmost importance as it automatises and disindividualises power. Power is from here on stressed as the primary reason as to why prisons work and are a good method of discipline. Discipline is outlined and critiqued within a prison scenario, giving different instances of how it operates: the functional inverstion of the disciplines, the swarming of disciplinary mechanisms, the state control of the mechanisms of discipline. These make up the bulk of the reading from here on and are very useful and quite easy to digest if writing on this topic.

    Foucault starts to conclude by stating that, ‘the eighteenth century invented the techniques of discipline and the examination, rather as the middle ages invented the judicial investigation’. It’s interesting to see how the basic principles of our modern day crime and punishment systems are very similar throughout the centuries.

    13 Oct 2016, 08:59

  15. Prison Histories: Reform, Repression and Rehabilitation – McLaughlin and Muncie

    • Identifiable trajectory in prison history in Britain: reform of prisons/prisoners near the end of the eighteenth century, repressive nineteenth century practices and rehabilitation taking form as an idea by the start of the twentieth century.
    • There is not one history of prisons and imprisonment in general, historians almost always rely on sources which are in some way biased to one side of the historical story
    • There are Whig interpretations of reform as a benevolent movement of progress/improvement and the revisionist view which is a different historical view that saw reform as part of the social and economic changes in England – essentially aiding the ‘diversification and strengthening of state power’

    Gaols and houses of correction
    • According to Pugh, in medieval England the use of ‘gaols’ (county ‘prisons’ in the loose sense) had 3 maid functions: Custodial, Coercive and Punitive
    • The punitive function of gaols didn’t take off until the late eighteenth century
    • The medieval county gaols were privately owned and ran for profit until centralization in 1878 (they re-emerged)
    • Goals were mainly used to hold those who were owed fines, but within the gaols you were to pay for accommodation/food etc. Therefore, for the poor, the gaol essentially became a death sentence
    • During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, due to a variety of factors, imprisonment was on the decline in favour of capital punishment (death)
    • Almost every crime had death as a punishment
    • Transportation emerged as an alternative to capital punishment/imprisonment from around the mid-seventeenth century to colonies such as America and Australia and became the principle way of dealing with petty criminals

    13 Oct 2016, 08:59

  16. (Although), arguments were made that transportation would benefit the colonies and not the home country
    • Houses of correction were central to the ideas of ‘individual reformation and punishment’ – principal idea was to counteract idleness
    • Using prison for reforming criminals was not traditional and was ‘radical’ in relation to previous practice
    • Religion was also a factor, houses of correction were not just economic (prisoners would work) but also moral, they would be exposed to religious observance as part of the rehabilitation
    • It’s argued that the principal motivation behind houses of correction was economic – to produce goods at a low labor cos
    • By the end of the seventeenth century, houses of correction in decline in favour of the prison by the eighteenth century
    Penal reform and the penitentiary
    • Prisons for the majority of the eighteenth century were not in good condition and the state was so severe that it prompted a parliamentary act in 1784 to establish separate sells n all mew prisons, but this was essentially ignored.
    • Various acts followed – The Penitentiary Act however reflected the purpose of imprisonment – the proposed prison’s functions were to be both punitive and reformative.
    • ‘Penitentiary’ is relevant because it shows how prisoners were to go through a process of ‘expiation and penance’
    • Uniformity over penal practice was attempted through the 1823 Gaol Act
    • The Pentonville penitentiary opened in 1842 became a model of prison architecture through its regime of silence and solitude
    • It is obvious to identity the landmarks in penal reform but more difficult to grasp why these reforms too place.
    • Through the various processes behind transformation – the prison was the dominant model for controlling behavior and inflicting punishment (Cohen)
    Debates behind why reform took place
    • Whig tradition: humanitarian histories – Cohen forms part of the Whig tradition that sees prison reform in lying in an essentially humanitarian movement where key ideas/individuals became vehicles for social change. The have dominated the social history field until more recently
    • Radical tradition: revisionist histories – Radical histories essentially argue that penal reform formed part of a ‘repressive means of social control’, which has its origins is conflicts between classes and essentially functioning to benefit a wealthy elite and facilitate the capitalist system of industrial Britain. This view has its origins in Orthodox Marxism.
    Reform to repression
    • As the penal system underwent massive transformations in the nineteenth century the ideas of prisoner reformation were less significant. By 1870 in place of other traditional punishments, prison was the main punishment for all ranges of offences. Prisons were not fully centralized and nationalized until the Prison act of 1877 was passed.
    • Various developments (i.e. separation, silence, hard labor) all culminated to shift the rhetoric behind the justification of punishment from reform to deterrence and repression
    • The notion was to deter future crime rather than reform criminals
    • As transportation to Australia ended in the 1860s the issue then became on how to manage long term sentences at home. As crime was seen to rise in the same period, the government strongly favoured deterrence over reformation – harsh punishments, and strict prison life would stop future offences and deter prisoners from offending again
    Repression to Rehabilitation

    13 Oct 2016, 09:00

  17. During the mid/end of the nineteenth century it became more apparent that the same punishment would not be effective for all – the example of juvenile prisoners is a good example. They for example were seen to need reformation over punishment
    • Reformatories were created (supported by Mary Carpenter) as an alternative. However, whilst they weren’t exactly a part of a liberal progression they still were effective in beginning the process of ‘exceptional’ categories to punishment. Over the nineteenth century women were allocated to separate wings/prisons etc.
    • By the 1890s there were doubts regarding the efficiency of repression and the 1895 Gladstone Report reflected the view that rehabilitation should go hand in hand in deterrence and reflected a concern for the individual treatment of prisoners.
    • In place of punitive punishment, scientific treatment began to be used as an alternative – ‘weak-minded’ prisoners were treated instead of punished.
    • Garland notes how more radical reforms happened outside of the prison system i.e. probation services, specialist institutions etc. leading him to emphasize not to focus on prison reform but on penality as an entire realm.
    • Hard to sustain a logic of a ‘continual progressive improvement’. There are four identifiable versions of the history of penal reform:
    1. Uneven Progress
    2. Good (but complicated) intentions with disastrous consequences
    3. Discipline
    4. Mystification

    13 Oct 2016, 09:00

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