How to punish the 18th and 19th century criminal?

There were great concerns in the 18th and 19th centuries about how to punish criminals - transportation, prison or hanging.

During his hanging, highwayman John 'Sixteen String Jack' Rann (1750-1774) appeared to care little, while Stephen Gardiner (1724), dressed in his death-shroud, appealed to the public to mend their ways. By the 1820s, 95 per cent of all those sentenced to hang were pardoned or had their sentence commuted. Similarly, transportation was expensive, costing as much as £570,000 in 1812, or £16m in today's money. By 1830, Australia was increasingly reluctant to take convicts. The other option - prison - worried inspectors too, because they were in a deplorable state, overcrowded, often mixed and inmates were half-starved. This is the evidence found by John Howard (1777). The clip finishes by asking what is the purpose of prisons.

Release date:


3 minutes

This clip is from