Punishment and Popular Culture
Lecture 1: Early Modern Popular Culture
Cultural history goes further, it attempts to reconstruct mentality and worldview and has major impact on the way we
understand crime in the past. Major forces impacting the way society is constructed and understands the world around
1500, beginning of the early modern period. The social and political fabric was being torn apart by shifts in religion,
etc. things are changing incredibly quickly.
In 1455, Johann Gutenberg produced the Gutenberg bible using his movable type printing press. The printing press
revolutionized ideas. Before this period, writing out copies of texts produced text and this was expensive. It now could
be produced more cheaply and was more accessible to people. The spread of literacy and the spread of ideas.
Early 16 century. Reformation
- In 1517 Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses. Peasants in Germany were revolting by the early 1520‟s
by demands for social reform. Happened because people had access to texts that changed the way they
looked at the world. In England, the Reformation progresses through parliamentary in the 1530‟s. The issues
of the English Reformation were partially resolved by the Elizabethan Settlement established by Elizabeth I.
(e. 15557-1603). Partially catholic and partially protestant. The reformation contributed a lingering and
virulent anti-Catholicism, and a developing sense of national identity and the English saw themselves as
The Wars of Religion
- The Reformation split Europe between Protestant and Catholic. This was solidified by Catholic Reformation
(or counter reformation). Religious fervour led to violence, particularly in France, where the Wars of
Religion raged from 1562 to 1598.
- The Witch crazy was at its height between 1550 and 1650. 100 000 Witches and 60 000 were executed. The
crazy for apprehending witches was spurred by massive religious.
The 17 Century had lots of conflict.
The English Civil War
- They wanted every man to have a vote. And this soon thcompassed the entire population. Important because
it introduced all these issues. By the end of the 17 century, England resolved its issues.
- Most of 18 century, England- Britain, was filled of conflict and war.
Assaults on Popular Culture
- Rise of the middle class, during this period increased number of people falling in this culture because of
industrialization and agricultural changes.
- This agricultural culture practice is changing. Right to farm strips of communal land. Landowners look at
the benefits of their own land; peasants were prohibited from farming on their land. Short term it moved
many people off the land and people drifting into the cities and into a life of crime and this as an impact of
criminality in the cities
- Stimulating population growth and encouraging this, developing institutions to protect young children to
ensure they would reach adulthood (time when 1/3 children dying), this to improve the population. But there
was a shift in this because the population began to outstrip what is available in terms of resources
Industrial Revolution 1760-1830
- An economic triumph or disaster. Traditionally to preform a wide set of tasks, and industrialization made
people the great machine- part of a factory system, not doing a whole thing but just working on one small
part of the larger machine. Workers and employers became cold and factory like. People followed a clock
when working and previous this, when they felt like stopping people would stop working. In the factory a
sense of class-consciousness began. Young women- factory work became liberating, freedom outside the household. For some it increased wages but for others including children- child labour, this was dangerous.
Children expected to work long hours and bad conditions.
- Population exploded and expanded and had a massive impact on society. Most of what you did in the city
was liberating, you could be anonymous in the city and not being watched over by the local town and family.
And this created criminals because freer to commit crimes without fear of retribution
Enlightenment and Sensibility
- Period where development emerged: Cult of sensibility. Development of mass consumption- not polite to
accumulate wealth but not considered polite to admit to it so cult of sensibility allowed for people to
negotiate these issues. Cult of sensibility raises the gap between the acceptable and non-acceptable.
Obsession with politeness- promoted politeness and shocked by crime and crimes cultivate their senses
Part Two: Establishing Order
Law and Order- 18 -19 century.
- Patronage and knowing the right people was the key to success. Dominated by few men, no women.
- Majority of the English population had no representation in parliament. Called for the reform act to enable
more men to be able to vote and clean up the electoral system. Wanted to weed out a lot of the corruption in
- Early modern people based their ideas of society on micropausian and macro… A period where being a child
was not something to be jealous over. Children were overworked and beaten. Your house was a school to
your life. Where you learned rules and respect etc. The parish was where you went to receive relief and aid.
Riot and Rebellion
- 1780- riots had been called the most violent, in the 18 century; Catholics suffered under the penal laws-
from owning property and stopped them from gaining power. And the appeal to remove these laws was
Lecture 2: Torture and Execution
Crime is fundamentally rooted in the body- commits the crime and often committed on a body then the body is often
punished for the crime and thus crime and the body are intertwined. The body is a metaphth for ththbody as a whole. We
safeguard the collective body; it‟s a utilitarian way and serves us for crime in the 18 and 19 century.
The last execution in Canada occurred in 1962.
Two minutes after midnight on Dec. 11, 1962, Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin became the last people to be executed in
- Convicted of killing a police officer- Turpin. Told at the time of their execution they were the last ones to be
executed in Canada.
710 people were executed in Canada between 1859 and 1962.
In 1976 capital punishment was officially abolished in Canada.
Early modern executions served multiple purposes:
1) Exercise in punishment
2) A deterrent to future crime
3) An educational lesson
These executions also occurred in public. The witnesses were just as crucial to the process as the convicted criminal and
Public executions placed the body of the criminal at the center of a multi-faceted spectacle.
- They spoke to the participants- more then the ending of the life of the criminal, they were pageants. They were
events, which the criminal had a role to play as the accused, and witnesses had a role to play.
The spectacle of execution changed over the 18th and 19th centuries as the public procession of the criminal to the noose
was replaced by a private ceremony.
- There was no police force back then, so having law and order depended on the executions and torture. - Executions were public and then gradually progressed from being a large spectacle to becoming something private
By the 18th century, nearly 200 crimes warranted the death penalty.
These laws became known as the “Bloody Code.” Fortunately for criminals, the Bloody Code was never fully
- Justice felt the punishment of execution was too harsh so changed to imprisonment or transportation
- The bloody code- the punishment exceeded the crime itself. Crimes were mainly focused on property and hanging
was prescribed for many property crimes because people loved their property and crimes against property was a
huge no no.
Of the 33,000 defendants convicted at the Old Bailey in the 18th century, 1,600 were hanged.
- Executions were at a low number
Punishing the Body
Torture and execution served two separate but overlapping functions.
- Separated by public or private execution
Torture was primarily used to extract information and a confession (same way torture is used today), while execution
was a punishment for crime and a public warning to the populace about the dangers of transgressing the law.
- Process of being executed was very painful, burned alive, hung, drawn, or hordered (cut into 4 pieces). There was
also class distinction between upper and lower class criminals
But, if we define torture simply as the purposeful infliction of pain, torture and execution blend together.
In the early modern period, heretics were burned and criminals were hung, drawn, quartered, and then dissected (the
Murder Act in 1752 officially sanctioned the dissection of hanged criminals- state want to have doctors to preform
anatomies but the population was against this occurring, caused a lot of conflict).
The Body of the Criminal After Death
The body was sacrosanct; doing something to the body after death could also constitute a form of torture or punishment.
Those convicted of piracy were brought from Marshalsea Prison in Southwark, across London Bridge, and past the
Tower to Execution Dock, where they were hung.
The bodies were left hanging until three tides had washed over their head at least 3 times.
After the hanging, more notorious pirates were covered with tar and suspended on a gibbet or in irons along the Thameth
to warn sailors about the price of mutiny and piracy. Pain was an essential aspect of executions in the 18 and 19
McGowan- punishment is linked to a specific moral universe. Does the type of punishment have to change with the
times? Does the way we punish criminals now have to change for times in the future? McGowan argues the specific
moral universe and the history of crime being tied to a specific moral context. He argues order in the 18 and 19 based
on the fundamental belief that …
In the 18th and 19th centuries (and before), society was considered to be analogous to the human body.
Just as bodily health was thought to be maintained through balance, equilibrium was considered necessary for social
Suggests the individual is less important then the social body, punishing criminals for the greater good. Does
imprisonment restore order in society the same way they used to think execution would restore order?
Parts of the social body that caused problems had to be cut off to preserve the integrity of the whole, similar to bodily
The Physical Body and the Metaphorical Body
The language that early modern people used to talk about execution was filled with images of the body.
The body was connected to the gallows
In two ways:
1) The physical trauma exacted on the body of the convicted criminal
2) The use of the body as a metaphor to make sense of the purpose of the execution
The Spectacle of the Tyburn Tree
Before 1783 all common criminals in London were executed at the Tyburn tree. Convicted criminals waited their execution date at Newgate Prison. They were then transported from the prison on a
cart, often seated on their own coffin.
The procession to Tyburn was a parade. The audience cheered or jeered, depending on the popularity of the criminal.
The impact of hanging would be diminished if executions became so common it wouldn‟t act as a deterrent when the
entertainment aspect went away.
Executing the Nobility: The Tower of London
High profile executions typically occurred within the Tower of London.
Throughout its history has had different uses, but the main use was executions for high-ranking nobles
The Tower was a formidable structure, originally built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century.
By the 15th and 16th centuries, the Tower was the preferred site for executions of high-ranking nobles, so as to avoid the
embarrassment of noble families or the monarch. (Instead of being in public at Tyburn, there was still an audience of
officials, family, small groups but not in the public eyes)
Execution of Jacobites on Tower Hill
Different execution site then Tyburn.
The Last Words: The Gallows Speech
The law allowed the condemned to stand for one hour beneath the gallows. They were permitted to say anything they
wished during this hour. The gallows speech served several functions:
1) It gave the condemned a voice and offered them the opportunity to make a good death
2) It allowed the crowd to envision themselves as the condemned
3) It was a staged performance that reinforced the rule of law and order
These are executions happening in Public. Making a good death involved setting your affairs in order and dying in
dignity. The way you conducted your death bed is important to your after life is what it was believed to be back in those
days. Willing to accept death for the general wickedness in your life, it was expected, even if you were innocent, you
should accept the execution with a certain amount of grace and play this properly.
The Gallows Literature: The Life of the Condemned After Death
„The gallows literature illustrates the way in which the civil and religious authorities designed the execution spectacle to
articulate a particular set of values, inculcate a certain behavioral model and bolster a social order perceived as
Functioned to track the execution. The Gallows literature casts the criminal in the wrong; a cautionary tail if you stepped
outside the boundaries of normal behaviours, the speeches was to reinforce the value of the execution
Why did the appeal of the last speech fascinate the people back then? Interesting to historians, at the time it was
fascinating to people because crime is so fascinating to people because
The Last Words of Anne Boleyn
Before she was beheaded, she was accused of treason, witchcraft, and adultery. Her last words were interesting, she
referred to him (the king) as being merciful, and most historians assume she was not guilt of many of these. She suggests
that she accepted her fait, but she is slipping in the idea that the King is condemning her for something she is NOT
The Diary of Samuel Pepys
The Execution of Sir Henry Vane
Vane was executed; Samuel Pepys describes this execution describing his whole life while he‟s standing on the scaffold.
By giving a detailed life story it gives the idea and sense that he is a real person and he is standing there unjustly because
he‟s a “gentle man” and he‟s protesting his innocence in his last words.
The Abolition of the Tyburn Ritual
By the late 18th century, reformers were increasingly arguing that executions were no longer necessary.
The Cult of Sensibility- witnessing these executions over and over dulls this entertainment and sensibility. The same idea as people shouldn‟t be watching violent movies because they will become violent themselves and watching all
these executions destroys their sense of sensibility.
Some reformers argued that the gallows led to insensitivity.
Civilization wouldn‟t advanced if you were encouraged to disregard the scansion of life (human and animal)
The gallows was increasingly seen as incompatible with the progress of British society; many as the legacy of a
barbarous past saw it.
Seen as many as with a very barbaric past,
The last execution at Tyburn occurred on November 7, 1783.
Devereux- Newagate. In 1868, all executions remained private. Reformers suggested executions at Tyburn are
something they want to avoid. Executions became entirely private. He argues abolition of Tyburn: Transporting
criminals was backlogged by the war. The number of convicts continued to rise but there were criminals backing up in
the criminal justice system. Tried to dispense criminals privately and get it out of the public eye. Increase in time was
tied to the end of war (the process of demobilization caused and increases in crime when the solders returned there was
lots of unemployment and people turned to a life of crime, at the end of the war there is always decrease in crime.
Crimes continued to be committed despite the executions being so public and people being hung from a tree, reformers
argued this destroyed peoples sensibility. The progression from Newgate to Tyburn could take up to two hours. London
was in massive urban recession and tied up several hours of the city, and loosing business hours in the day just to have
executions in Tyburn. Devereux suggests the move from Newgate to Tyburn (1780) event of a disturbance of an anti-
Catholic riot and this riot and the time it took to prepare Newgate, contributed to the time period
Several factors led to the abolition of the Tyburn ritual (interruption of transportation, post-war increase in crime,
complaints from business owners, calls for humanitarian reform)
Creating the Newgate Ritual
The shift from Tyburn to Newgate caused a fundamental change in the meaning of executions.
People couldn‟t see the criminals as they were hung, so it was more sudden but also more humane- instead of hanging
for hours from the neck, incredibly painful. The criminal no longer shared his narrative to the audience, this important
expression of yourself in the execution ritual did not occur in Newgate. Completely different execution
At Newgate, executions were quicker and more shocking. The emphasis was no longer on the criminal‟s bodily
suffering but on a quick and ruthless punishment.
The criminal no longer shared his or her narrative with the audience.
Is this a positive or negative shift? Negative in the way it was more private and governments at this time it was more
ruthless, people were hung without trial, just found in the wrong area at the wrong time and increased the ability for
corruption. But it was also more humane in a sense.
In July 1840 an article explains that the entertainment part of the execution is gone, not seeing the entire process then the
part you do see can be more shocking. Referring to the criminal at the end with personal courage and strength sees
criminals in a different way then in Tyburn.
But the Newgate executions were also considered to be more humane.
1) The entertainment value of the execution remained; the author clearly feels that the execution is, if not entertainment,
at least a source of curiosity.
2) Despite the abolition of the Tyburn ritual, executions continued to have a carnival or holiday-like atmosphere.
3) People were eager for the news of executions; it was clearly an event you wanted to be in the know about; analogous
perhaps to watching the evening news
---Things that stood out to the prof. Between the Tyburn and Newgate, there was a shift in how the public viewed
Between the end of the Victorian era and the present day, our attitude to execution has changed. Between the 820s and
1940‟s there was a major reduction in the number of capital thfences made possible by the creation of the Metropolitan
police in 1829 and the prison reform movement of the 19 century
From the late 1830‟s, it was rare to be executed for anything other then murder.
In the 1861, the death penalty was abolished for all crimes except murder, high treason, and piracy with violence and
arson in the royal dockyards
In 1868 public executions in Britain was entirely abolished
Execution day was no longer a holiday or educational display
In 1965 the death penalty was abolished for murder in Britain In 2003, it was totally eliminated from British law.
Long progression over time, beginning with starting to question public executions to the shift private executions to
complete abolishment. We like to think that we live in a civilized society. In 2004, the torture by US military to
immigrants was publicized.
Having executions in private takes away your responsibility as a spectator and we aren‟t participating in it and
pretending we aren‟t involved
McGowan- argument that we have fully stripped execution of ceremony in the present day. He suggests there was a
movement from the ritual of ceremony. Arguing in the present day we have stripped the executions of ceremony, and
does this make them more or less humane. Suggests there is a prolonged shift over time
Devereux- Abolishing the Tyburn Ritual.
Sharpe- Last Speeches. Argued last speeches were fundamental to the execution ceremony, in the sense that it gave it a
Lecture 3: Punishment and Popular Culture: Prisons and Asylums
Foucault and the „ Confinement‟
• Michel Foucault argued that from the mid 17th century there was a „great confinement‟ of deviants.
• Medicalization & institutionalization were linked; both were mechanisms by which modern society repressed &
• Modernity ended the freedom of the individual
“But perhaps one should reverse the problem and ask oneself what is served by the failure of the prison; what is the use
of these different phenomena that are continually
Being criticized; the maintenance of delinquency, the encouragement of recidivism, the transformation of the occasional
offender into a habitual delinquent, the organization of a closed milieu of delinquency. Perhaps one should look for what
is hidden beneath the apparent cynicism of the penal institution which after purging the convicts by means of their
sentence, continue to follow them by a whole series of „brandings‟ ...and which thus pursues as a „delinquent‟ someone
who has acquitted himself of his punishment as an offender? Can we not see here a consequence rather than a
contradiction? If so, one would be forced to suppose that the prison, and no doubt punishment in general, is not intended
to eliminate offences, but rather to distinguish them, to distribute them, to use them; that is not so much that they render
docile those that are likely to transgress the law, but that they tend to assimilate the transgression of the laws in a general
tactics of subjection.”
Keeping Order in the Early Modern World
Prisons and asylums are agents of normalcy.
They help us to conceptualize both criminality and mental illness.
Yet prisons and asylums haven‟t retained the same character over time.
Between the 17th century and the 20th century, the character of imprisonment and confinement changed.
Jails and Houses of Correction
• In the 18th century, there were two institutions of imprisonment: the jail and the house of correction.
• The jail contained felons and debtors and those awaiting trial while the house of correction received petty offenders
• These houses of correction were known as bridewells, and by the early 17th century, there were approximately 170
bridewells across England
The London Prisons
• There were 18 prisons in and around London in the early 17th century, excluding Bridewell.
• Newgate (felons, debtors, those awaiting execution), Ludgate (debtors, bankrupts), the Fleet (offenders of the courts of
Chancery and Star Chamber), the Clink (religious offenders), the King‟s Bench (debtors, trespassers), Marshalsea
(debtors, religious prisoners, pirates), East Smithfield (thieves, debtors), New Prison (heretics), the Tower of London
The London Hospitals • Between 1546 and 1553 five hospitals were opened or re-opened:
(Orphans at Christ‟s, insane at Bethlem, sick at St. Thomas‟ and St. Bart‟s, and criminals at Bridewell).
• These were known as the „royal hospitals‟, which were established to provide medical care and to curb vagrancy in the
aftermath of the Reformation.
In London, the first and largest house of correction was known as Bridewell.
The royal charter of Bridewell was drawn up in 1553 & the first prisoner was locked up in 1555.
Bridewell became a model for other prisons. It was the first hospital in Europe to twin hard work with custodial
A law of 1609 mandated a house of correction for every English county in order to curb vagrancy and vice.
In 1600, 1,952 people spent some time in Bridewell, with 184 inmates kept continuously at work when the count was
Numbers peaked around 1700 (1,474 in 1702), but then declined to a low of 336 in 1764.
There was an increase again in the 1760s and 1770s when transportation was suspended and when there were waves of
The highest total for the century came in 1784 (2,956). In 1800, there were 1,989 commitments to Bridewell.
Life in an 18th Century Prison
Life inside an eighteenth-century prison like Bridewell or Newgate was characterized by disorder, neglect, and dirt.
Prisons were self-financed and jailers charged fees from inmates. Prison regimes were relatively lax.
Neglect and dirty and no organization- sometimes given different amounts of food or clothing, no regulations
The prison experience was about what you could afford. Jailers were charged for bedding and most 18 century people
viewed this as the normal prerogative and wasn‟t weird that they were charged for food or bedding
Small crimes had the largest number of prisoners. Some prisoners could work; some could gamble, and permitted
William Hogarth (1697-1764), The Rake‟s Progress (1733)
Living in Bethlem
Started as Bethlehem but ended up being named as Bethlem.
„As zoo and freakshow, Bethlem could be exploited to emblematize a cosmology of madness, in which the inmate was regarded as a
beast or monster. In such a reading, the curtailing of visiting in 1770 represents a belated humanizing of the madman, a progress from
animal to patient‟
Bethlem was founded in the 13th century by the Priory of St. Mary of Bethlehem (A religious order). From 1547 the
hospital was under civic administration of the City of London. In 1676 it moved to new premises at Moorfields
Bethlem was never large (not in terms of architecture or in the number of patients admitted). There were only 122
patients in 1815.
Bethlem‟s importance derives from its place in the popular imagination. Until 1770, approximately 96,000 visitors
passed through the doors of Bethlem each year.
„To gratify the curiosity of a country friend, I accompanied him a few weeks ago to Bedlam; a place which I should not otherwise have
visited, as the distress of my fellow creatures affect me too much to incline me to be a spectator of them. I was extremely moved at the
variety of wretches, who appeared either sullen or outrageous, melancholy or cheerful, according to their different dispositions; and who
seemed to retain, though inconsistently, the same passions and affections, as when in possession of their reason.
In one cell sat a wretch upon his straw, looking steadfastly upon the ground in silent despair. In another the spirit of ambition flashed from
the eyes of an emperor, who strutted the happy lord of creation. Here a fearful miser, having in fancy converted his rags to gold, sat counting
out his wealth, and trembling at all who saw him...
To those who have feeling minds, there is nothing so affecting as sights like these; nor can a better lesson be taught us in any part of the
globe than in this school of misery. Here we may see the mighty reasoners of the earth, below even the insects that crawl upon it; and from so humbling a sight we may learn to moderate our pride, and to keep those passtranions within bounds, which if too much indulged, would
drive reason from her seat, and level us with the wretches of this unhappy mansion...
I found a hundred people at least, who having paid their two-pence apiece, were suffered unattended to run rioting up and down the wards,
making sport and diversion of the inhabitants; a cruelty which one would hardly think human nature capable of!‟
Bethlem was a tool for making the line between sanity and insanity. If you were able to look at someone as a curiosity
it‟s harder for you to imagine being them and this made things more clear. Putting people in institutions was a way of
easily dealing with criminals and the insane if they were behind these walls.
The prison reform movement was based in the 18th century evangelical revival.
John Wesley (1703-1791) spearheaded the Methodist movement in Oxford. The movement appealed to the lower
Revivalists saw it as their duty to improve social conditions.
This humanitarian movement was a bridge between the sensibility of the Enlightenment and the Christian reform of the
The humanitarians (William Wilberforce, Jonas Hanway, etc.) focused on specific groups in need of aid, such as slaves
and chimney sweeps (young boys who lived and worked in appalling conditions)
A series of investigations into prison conditions followed. 1702, SPCK conducted investigation into the Newgate and
Marshalsomething, series of investigations into prisons, in 1751, sale of alcohol in prisons were forbidden.
Religion associated with the working class people. The religious revivalists saw it as their duty to create a more
McGowen argues that sensibility and sympathy was so important to these movements, people were more intensely
concerned with displaying sympathy for individuals. In both the 18 and 19 centuries there were humanitarian
movements occurring (abolition of the slave trade and development of ___)
Waves of Crime
There was a wave of crime in the 1780s following the American Revolution.
Capital punishment and transportation remained the most common responses to serious crime, but the prisons were also
John Howard (1726-1790)
In the 1770s and 1780s John Howard began his campaign for prison reform.
In 1773 Howard became High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, in charge of keeping the county jail. Gave him some experience
in prison reform, he observed the levels of corruption in prisons and even if you were acquitted you had to pay still to
He began to campaign against the fees prisoners paid.
By the summer of 1774, Howard had visited almost every jail in England and Wales.
In 1775 he travelled to Scotland, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Flanders, and Germany.
In 1777 he decided to publish his findings as The State of Prisons in England and Wales, with Preliminary
Observations, and an Account of Some Foreign Prisons.
Howards major contribution- showing the poor management of prisons
Howard argued that prisons should:
1) Be purpose-built and close to courts
2) Be well lit and ventilated
3) Be able to provide adequate food, water, and fresh air
4) Cease lumping prisoners together; traditionally men, women and children were all housed together
5) Be separate from houses of correction
6) Have a paid jailer, a surgeon or apothecary, and a chaplain
7) Have no system of fees
8) Not sell alcohol
9) Have a regulated daily routine The reformers argued that the purpose of punishment was not to extract vengeance, but to rehabilitate criminals. He
rejected the idea of punishment as a spectacle
They began to emphasize the importance of solitude.
In 1776 Jonas Hanway published Solitude in Imprisonment. Prison was an instrument of divine justice.
„The walls of his prison will preach peace to his soul and he will confess the goodness of his Maker, and the wisdom of
the laws of his country‟ (Jonas Hanway)
Howard and Hanway‟s reforms were also part of a local movement to improve prisons (the prison reform movement
only became national after 1810) This movement was going on from the beginning of the 18 century but was slow to
In the end, what developed was a compromise between a local system of prisons and a national system, symbolized by
Pentonville, established in 1842.
The Penitentiary Act (1779)
1) Renamed all prisons penitentiaries
2) Diminished emphasis on corporal punishment
3) Abolished the practice of branding convicts
The Penitentiary Act was „the most forward-looking English penal measure of its time‟ (Devereaux-Many people found
transportation more attractive,)
It was the culmination of the 18th century prison reform movement.
It marked the beginning of the state‟s commitment to imprisonment as the primary means of criminal punishment.
Why was there hesitancy about committing to imprisonment?
What does the passage of the Act tell us about how penal reform progressed?
Policing London: The Bow Street Runners
By the 1780s the criminal justice system in Britain had begun to change.
The functions served by public hangings were slowly replaced by the police and the penitentiary.
The London metropolitan police force (the Bow Street Runners) was created in 1829 in response to a wave of crime
between 1780 and 1850.
Characteristically Victorian because their solution was to create a body to create order and set government controls. The
presence of the police created new tensions, seen as agents of the middle class and didn‟t improve things in London.
Inside the Victorian Prison
In general, a harder prison regime prevailed until the end of the 19th century. There was a decline of length of sentences
from the 1860‟s.
Victorian prisons were highly functional and the divide between the jailer and the inmate was stark.
They were much cleaner than their Georgian counterparts, but they were also joyless places where conversation and
pleasure had been outlawed.
„Now these letters on the corridors, as well as the indices beside the doors, are used not only to express the position of the cell, but, strange
to say, the name of the prisoner confined within it; for here, as we said, men have no longer Christian and surnames to distinguish them one
from the other, but are called merely after the position of cell they occupy. Hence, no matter what the appellation of a man may have been-
or even whether he bore a noble title before entering the prison- immediately he comes as a convict within its precincts, he is from that time
known as D 3, 4, or B 2, 10, as the case may be, and wears at his breast a charity-boy- like brass badge so inscribed, to mark him from the
rest. Thus he is no longer James This, or Mr That, or even Sir John So-and-so, but simply the prisoner confined in corridor D, gallery 3,
and cell 4, or else the one in corridor B, gallery 2, and cell 10; so that instead of addressing prisoners here as Brown, Jones, and Robinson,
the warder in whose gallery and corridor those convicts may happen to be calls them, for brevity sake, simply and individually by the
number of the cells they occupy in his part of the building. Accordingly the officer on duty may occasionally be heard to cry to some one of
the prisoners under his charge, "Now step out there 4, will you?" or, "Turn out here, Number 6.
- The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of London Life
By Henry Mayhew and John Binny, 1862
Pentonville Prison and the „Separate System‟
Pentonville Prison opened in 1842. It was constructed along the lines of the „separate system‟ and was referred to as the model prison. Pentonville was
constructed according to Jeremy Bentham‟s „panopticon‟.
„Nevertheless, it is not the long, arcade-like corridors, nor the opera-lobby-like series of doors, nor the lengthy balconies stretching along
each gallery, nor the paddle-box-like bridges connecting the opposite sides of the arcade, that constitute the peculiar character of
Pentonville prison. Its distinctive feature, on the contrary-the one that renders it utterly dissimilar from all other jails- is the extremely
bright, and cheerful, and airy quality of the building; so that, with its long, light corridors, it strikes the mind, on first entering it, as a bit of
the Crystal Palace, stripped of all its contents. There is none of the gloom, nor dungeon- like character of a jail appertaining to it; nor are
there bolts and heavy locks to grate upon the ear at every turn; whilst even the windows are destitute of the proverbial prison-bars - the
frames of these being made of iron, and the panes so small that they serve at once as safeguards and sashes.‟
The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of London Life
By Henry Mayhew and John Binny, 1862
„How is it possible for you, or ourselves, reader, to make out to our imaginations the terrors of separate confinement? How can we, whose
lives are blessed with continual liberty, and upon whose will there is scarcely any restraint - we, who can live among those we lore, and
move where we list - we, to whom the wide world, with its infinite beauties of sunshine and: nt, and form, and air, and odour, and even
sound, are a perpetual fountain of health and joy; how, we say, can we possibly comprehend what intense misery it is to be cut off from all
such enjoyments - to have our lives hemmed in by four white blank walls - to see no faces but those of task-masters - to hear no voice but
that of commanding officers - to be denied all exercise of will whatever - and to be converted into mere living automata, forced to do the
bidding of others?
If you have ever lain on a sick-bed, day after day and week after week, all you knew every speck and: ny crack of the walls that surrounded
you-if you have seen the golden lustre of the spring sun shining without, and heard the voices of the birds- telling their love of liberty in a
very spasm, as it were, of melody, and then felt the unquenchable thirst that comes upon the soul to be out in the open air; and if you
remember the grateful joy you have experienced at such :mes to have friends and relations near you to comfort and relieve your sufferings,
not only by their love and care, but by reading to you the thoughts or fancies of the wisest and kindest minds, then you may perhaps be able
to appreciate the subtle agony that must be endured by men in separate confinement - men, too, who are perhaps the most self- willed of all
God's creatures, and consequently likely to feel any restraint tenfold more irksome than we; and men whose untutored minds are incapable
of knowing the charms of intellectual culture or occupation; and who, therefore, can only fret and chafe under their terrible imprisonment,
even as the tameless hyaena may be seen at the beast-garden for ever freWng and chafing in its cage.
The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of London Life
by Henry Mayhew and John Binny, 1862
By the early 1860s there w