History of women in prison

Essay by likemike57 November 2014

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A) Plan of the Investigation

Topic: How were the conditions in English prisons improved in the 19th century reformation?

Prior to the reformation of the prison systems in Europe in the 19th century, there were no standards for the treatment of prisoners. They were treated like animals, and nobody gave it a second thought. After observing these conditions, several prominent figures emerged and dedicated their lives to the betterment of the conditions in prisons. Reformers such as John Howard (1726-1790) and Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) exposed the horrible conditions in prisons. This paper will cover the horrendous conditions of the prisons which necessitated reform, the outdated methods of punishment, and the new standards for prisons after the reforms. Books on the observations of the reformers, and accounts of their lives will be used as the primary evidence in this investigation.

Word count: 114

B) Summary of evidence

Before to the 19th century, there was little regulation on the methods of punishment.

Cruel and unusual punishments were used with regularity. Some southern European countries employed one of the more heinous punishments. These nations sentenced prisoners to prison ships, or hulks (ships propelled by rowers). On these ships, prisoners were forced to row until they were released, or, in most cases, until they died. Once reserved as a severe form of punishment, the hulks became a method for housing ordinary prisoners as well (vcp.e2bn.org).

Another widely used method of punishment was transportation. The British used transportation as an alternative to capital punishment for the most serious offenders. Prisoners were sent to the British colony of New South Wales in Australia. Some prisoners were even transported to the British colonies in America. This did not last long, however, as it was interrupted by the American war for independence (www.e2bn.com). Transportation was used...