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The reform of prisons

In 1835 a House of Lords Select Committee produced a report on gaols and houses of correction where they made the following recommendations. Their ideas were based on the concept of the 'separate system' of imprisonment that was implemented at Pentonville Gaol among other prisons.


That it is expedient that One uniform System of Prison Discipline be established in every Gaol and House of Correction in England and Wales.


That, for the sake of securing Uniformity of Discipline, it is expedient that the Rules and Regulations of the Gaols shall in future be submitted to the Secretary of State for his Approval, instead of, as at present, to the Judges of Assize.


That Inspectors of Prisons be appointed to visit the Prisons from Time to Time, and to report to the Secretary of State.


That entire Separation, except during the Hours of Labour and of Religious Worship, and Instruction, is absolutely necessary for preventing Contamination, and for securing a proper System of Prison Discipline.


That Silence be enforced, so as to prevent all Communication between Prisoners both before and after Trial.


That Persons whose Trials have been postponed, or who, having been tried, have been acquitted on the Ground of Insanity, shall not be Confined in the Gaols or Houses of Correction.


That the Officers of the Prisons shall not be permitted to receive any Portion of the Prisoners Earnings.


That the Earnings of convicted Prisoners shall be hereafter paid to the Fund out of which the Prison is maintained.


That the Dietary of every Prison be subject to the Approval of the Secretary of State as a Part of the Prison Rules and Regulations, and that it is most desirable that convicted Prisoners should not be permitted to receive other than the Gaol Allowance; but if in any Case of very urgent and special Necessity the Surgeons should order any Increase of Diet to a Prisoner not in the Infirmary, he shall state in his Journal the Cause and Extent of such Order.


That the Practice in some Prisons, and in certain Cases, of paying Money to the Prisoners in lieu of supplying them either wholly or in part with Food or Fuel, be declared to be illegal.


That the Use of Tobacco in any shape by the Prisoners be prohibited in every Prison.


That convicted Prisoners be not permitted to receive Visits or Letters from their Friends during the first Six Months of their Imprisonment, unless under peculiar and pressing Circumstances.


That the Use of Day-rooms, as such, be discontinued.


That no Wardsman, Monitor, Yardsman, or Prisoner be permitted to sell any thing whatever, or to let out to Hire any Article to any Person confined in the Prison.


That where the Chaplain shall be appointed to a Prison or Prisons, and the Number of Prisoners, including Debtors, which it is calculated may be received therein shall not be less than Fifty, it is most desirable that the Time of such Chaplain should be devoted to the Duties of such Prison or Prisons, that he should not hold any other Preferment with Cure of Souls, and that he should reside as near as possible to the same.


That in every Prison wherein the Number of Prisoners exceeds Fifty a Schoolmaster, not being one of the Prisoners, shall be appointed.


That every Prison be provided with a certain Number of solitary Cells for the Punishment of refractory Prisoners.


That in Cases where the Punishment of whipping is resorted to it is expedient that it should be defined as regards both the Extent to which it may be carried and the Instruments with which it may be inflicted.


That at every Michaelmas Quarter Sessions Twelve specified Days be appointed. viz. Three in Each Quarter, and that on each of such Days the Visiting Justices do visit and inspect the Prison under their Charge, according to the Provisions of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Sections of the Gaol Act.

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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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