Prison versus Western Australia: which worked best, the Australian penal colony or the English convict prison system?

Between 1850 and 1868, a natural experiment in punishment took place. Men convicted of similar crimes could serve their sentence of penal servitude either in Britain or in Australia. For historians and social scientists, this offers the prospect of addressing a key question posed over 200 years ago...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:The British journal of criminology
Main Author: Godfrey, Barry S. (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2019
In:The British journal of criminology
Year: 2019, Volume: 59, Issue: 5, Pages: 1139-1160
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:Between 1850 and 1868, a natural experiment in punishment took place. Men convicted of similar crimes could serve their sentence of penal servitude either in Britain or in Australia. For historians and social scientists, this offers the prospect of addressing a key question posed over 200 years ago by the philosopher, penal theorist and reformer Jeremy Bentham when he authored a lengthy letter entitled ‘Panopticon versus New South Wales: Or, the Panopticon Penitentiary System, and the Penal Colonization System, Compared’. This article answers the underlying tenet of Bentham’s question, ‘Which was best prison or transportation?’ by applying two efficiency tests. The first tests whether UK convicts or Australian convicts had higher rates of reconviction, and the second explores the speed to reconviction.
ISSN:1464-3529
DOI:10.1093/bjc/azz012