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English Prisons, Penal Culture, and the Abatement of Imprisonment, 1895–1922

  • Victor Bailey


The prison method is callous, regular and monotonous and produces great mental and physical strain. The deprivation of liberty is extremely cruel and if it is attended with treatment that deadens the spiritual nature and fails to offer any stimulus to the imagination, that coarsens and humiliates, then it stands condemned. (Arthur Creech Jones, conscientious objector, Wandsworth Prison, 1916–19)

The nineteenth century was the century of the penitentiary. Public and physical punishments (from whipping to the death penalty) were gradually replaced by the less visible, less corporal sanction of imprisonment. By the start of the Victorian era, imprisonment was the predominant penalty in the system of judicial punishments. For every 1,000 offenders sentenced at higher and summary courts in 1836 for serious (or indictable) offenses, 685 were punished by imprisonment in local prisons. By midcentury, moreover, sentences of penal servitude in convict prisons were plugging the gap left by the end of transportation to Australia. The three hundred or so local prisons in the 1830s, to which offenders were sent for anywhere between one day and two years (though typically for terms of less than three months), were locally controlled until 1877 and were less than uniform in regime. The separate system of prison discipline (or cellular isolation) increasingly prevailed over the silent system (or associated, silent labor), but it was subject to considerable local modification. Convict prisons were run by central government with less variability.



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1 Papers of Arthur Creech Jones, Rhodes House Library, Oxford, MS British Empire S 332, box 1, rile 2, fols. 194–97, n.d.: manuscript account of his thoughts in Wandsworth prison; quoted with permission from Violet Creech Jones.

2 In addition, thirty-three were punished by death, twenty-one were fined, and 245 were transported; see Radzinowicz, Leon and Hood, Roger, The Emergence of Penal Policy, vol. 5 of A History of English Criminal Law and Its Administration from 1750 (London, 1986), p. 777. In a move to privatize punishment, public executions were abandoned in 1868; thereafter, hanging took place behind prison walls; see Gatrell, V. A. C., The Hanging Tree: Execution and the English People, 1770–1868 (Oxford, 1994), pp. 589611; McGowen, R., “Civilizing Punishment: The End of the Public Execution in England,” Journal of British Studies 33 (July 1994): 257–82.

3 See Henriques, U., “The Rise and Decline of the Separate System of Prison Discipline,” Past and Present, no. 54 (1972): 6193; Bailey, Victor, ed., Policing and Punishment in Nineteenth Century Britain (London, 1981), pp. 1124; Ignatieff, Michael, “State, Civil Society, and Total Institutions: A Critique of Recent Social Histories of Punishment,” in Crime and Justice: An Annual Review of Research, ed. Tonry, M. and Morris, N., vol. 3 (Chicago, 1981), pp. 153–92; McConville, S., A History of English Prison Administration, 1750–1877 (London, 1981), chaps. 6–8, 11–13; DeLacy, M., Prison Reform in Lancashire, 1700–1850 (Stanford, Calif., 1986); Sharpe, J. A., Judicial Punishment in England (London, 1990), pp. 6187; Emsley, Clive, “The History of Crime and Crime Control Institutions, c. 1770–c. 1945,” in The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, ed. Maguire, M., Morgan, R., and Reiner, R. (Oxford, 1994), chap. 4. Pentonville was initially used for convicts aged eighteen to thirty-five who were sentenced to transportation for their first offense. They spent eighteen (later reduced to nine) months in separate confinement before going to the penal colony. The period of separate confinement was applied to all penal servitude sentences after 1857.

4 Quoted in Radzinowicz and Hood, p. 545.

5 See ibid., chap. 16, and p. 777; Sharpe, pp. 66–67, 85; Gatrell, V. A. C., “The Decline of Theft and Violence in Victorian and Edwardian England,” in Crime and the Law, ed. Gatrell, V. A. C., Lenman, B., and Parker, G. (London, 1980), chap. 9. Du Cane's rigorous administration of the local prison system is exhaustively detailed in Sean Taylor, McConville, English Local Prisons, 1860–1900: Next Only to Death (London, 1995), chaps. 4–10. For the “classical school,” see Ian, et al., The New Criminology (London, 1973; 4th impression, London, 1977), pp. 25.

6 Herbert Gladstone was first commissioner of works in the Liberal government and previously parliamentary undersecretary at the Home Office.

7 Report from the Departmental Committee on Prisons, C. 7702, Parliamentary Papers (PP), 1895, vol. 56, p. 5. For a full account of the vigorous public campaign for a prison inquiry, see McConville, English Local Prisons, chap. 13. The Irish nationalists in Parliament, many of whom had been imprisoned for political offenses, were also critical of prison administration. Their influence was strong enough to get one of their number, Arthur O'Connor, onto the Departmental Committee. See Davitt, Michael, The Prison Life of Michael Davitt, Related by Himself (Dublin, 1882), pp. 1018, and Criminal and Prison Reform,” Nineteenth Century 36 (December 1894): 875–89; Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 3d ser., vol. 319 (August 22, 1887), col. 1485 (Arthur O'Connor).

8 See Stokes, John, In the Nineties (Chicago, 1989), pp. 9699; Havighurst, A. F., Radical Journalist: H. W. Massingham (1860–1924) (Cambridge, 1974), p. 65.

9 See Morrison, McConville, English Local Prisons, pp. 554–77; Stokes, p. 96; Radzinowicz and Hood, p. 574. See also W., D., “Are Our Prisons a Failure?Fortnightly Review 55 (April 1894): 459–69. For Morrison's evidence to the Gladstone Committee, see Minutes of Evidence to the Departmental Committee on Prisons, C. 7702–I, PP, 1895, vol. 56, pp. 158–84.

10 Letters, Daily Chronicle (May 27, 1897; March 24, 1898), reprinted in Wilde, Oscar, The Soul of Man and Prison Writings (Oxford, 1990), pp. 159–67, 190–96. Wilde completed his sentence on May 19, 1897.

11 Quoted in Havighurst, p. 67. See Ellmann, Richard, Oscar Wilde (New York, 1988), pp. 479532.

12 Report from the Departmental Committee on Prisons, C. 7702, PP, 1895, vol. 56, p. 11, par. 23.

13 Harding, Morrison, “Are Our Prisons a Failure?” p. 468. See Christopher, , “‘The Inevitable End of a Discredited System’? The Origins of the Gladstone Committee Report on Prisons, 1895,” Historical Journal 31 (1988): 598600; McConville, , English Local Prisons, pp. 559–61, 581–83.

14 See Cornish, W. R. and Hart, J., Crime and Law in Nineteenth Century Britain (Dublin, 1978), pp. 3839; Radzinowicz and Hood (n. 2 above), pp. 576–79; McConville, English Local Prisons, chap. 15.

15 See Ellmann, p. 480; Wilde's, letter to the Daily Chronicle (March 24, 1898), in Wilde, , The Soul of Man, pp. 193–94.

16 Haldane, R. B., An Autobiography (London, 1929), pp. 166–67; Ellmann, p. 495; Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, lines 559–70, in Wilde, , The Soul of Man, pp. 186–87; McConville, , English Local Prisons (n. 5 above), pp. 598–99.

17 See Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975; reprint, London, 1977); Ignatieff, M., A Just Measure of Pain: The Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution, 1750–1850 (New York, 1978). See also Bailey, Victor, “The Fabrication of Deviance: ‘Dangerous Classes’ and ‘Criminal Classes’ in Victorian England,” in Protest and Survival: Essays for E. P. Thompson, ed. Rule, J. and Malcolmson, R. (London, 1993), pp. 221–56.

18 Garland, David, Punishment and Welfare: A History of Penal Strategies (Aldershot, 1985).

19 Ibid., chap. 1. See also Garland, David, “The Criminal and His Science: A Critical Account of the Formation of Criminology at the End of the Nineteenth Century,” British Journal of Criminology 25 (April 1985): 109–37.

20 Lombroso, Cesare, L'Uomo delinquente (Milan, 1876). See Radzinowicz, L., Ideology and Crime (New York, 1966), pp. 5056; Matza, David, Delinquency and Drift (1964), chap. 1; Taylor et al. (n. 5 above), pp. 10–23; Garland, D., “Of Crimes and Criminals: The Development of Criminology in Britain,” in Maguire, et al., eds. (n. 3 above), pp. 3742.

21 Garland, Punishment and Welfare, chaps. 3–5, and Punishment and Modern Society: A Study in Social Theory (Chicago, 1990), pp. 206–9. And see Harding, p. 608. In recent years, Garland has enriched his approach to the history of “penality” by incorporating discussion of the links between penal institutions and cultural phenomena; see Punishment and Modern Society, chaps. 9–11. Nonetheless, he stands by his original conception of a new Edwardian “penal-welfare complex,” characterized by “its distinctively positive approach to the reform of deviants, its extensive use of interventionist agencies, its deployment of social work and psychiatric expertise, its concern to regulate, manage, and normalize rather than immediately to punish, and of course its new ‘welfarist’ self-representation” (ibid., p. 128).

22 Foucault, p. 82.

23 Wiener, Martin J., Reconstructing the Criminal: Culture, Law, and Policy in England, 1830–1914 (Cambridge, 1990), chap. 6.

24 Ibid., p. 339.

25 Ibid., p. 379. McConville, English Local Prisons, chap. 12, also emphasizes the contribution of a new generation of Home Office clerks, including Ruggles-Brise, to penal change. McConville makes no attempt, however, to engage with the important discussion of the influence of positivist criminology on English penal policy and administration. Lombroso is mentioned only in relation to Du Cane's penal thought (p. 182); positivism is referred to but once, with regard to W. D. Morrison (p. 562, n. 59); Garland receives three inconsequential footnotes, Wiener none. Indeed, Wiener's Reconstructing the Criminal does not even figure in McConville's bibliography.

26 In this I have built on the suggestive remarks to be found in Radzinowicz and Hood (n. 2 above), chaps. 1, 17; and Forsythe, W. J., Penal Discipline, Reformatory Projects and the English Prison Commission, 1895–1939 (Exeter, 1990), chap. 1.

27 See Jose Harris's convincing reassessment of the role of Idealist thought in the development of the welfare state: Political Thought and the Welfare State, 1870–1940: An Intellectual Framework for British Social Policy,” Past and Present, no. 135 (May 1992): 117–39.

28 Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 4th ser., vol. 55 (March 24, 1898), col. 837. See Garland, , Punishment and Welfare (n. 18 above), pp. 216–17. The most complete account of the 1898 Prisons Bill, and of the unsuccessful press and parliamentary campaign to deepen its reforming effect on the prison system, is in McConville, English Local Prisons (n. 5 above), chap. 17. The Second Reading of the Bill prompted Oscar Wilde to write to the Daily Chronicle (March 24, 1898), to catalog what he termed the “three permanent punishments authorised by law in English prisons”: hunger, insomnia, and disease. See Wilde, , The Soul of Man (n. 10 above), pp. 190–96. See also McConville, , English Local Prisons, pp. 708–10, 755–56.

29 Morrison, Garland, Punishment and Welfare, p. 217. See W., D., “Prison Reform: I.-Prisons and Prisoners,” Fortnightly Review 63 (May 1898): 781–89.

30 See Report of the Indian Jails Committee, 1919–20, Cmd. 1303, PP, 1921, vol. 10, pp. 447–50.

31 See the Advisory Council on the Penal System, Sentences of Imprisonment: A Review of Maximum Penalties (London, 1978), p. 64.

32 More strictly, the period of separate confinement undergone by convicts was three months for the “Star” class, six months for “Intermediates,” and nine months for recidivists and revokees.

33 Nation (May 1, 8, 1909). The Nation was the main mouthpiece of the New Liberalism.

34 Public Record Office (PRO), London, Prison Commission (P.Com.) 7/308; E. Ruggles-Brise memo, June 10, 1909, P.Com. 7/309.

35 PRO, P.Com. 7/309; Marrot, H. V., The Life and Letters of John Galsworthy (London, 1935), pp. 250, 677; Garnett, E., ed., Letters from John Galsworthy, 1900–1932 (London, 1934), p. 174.

36 Marrot, pp. 676–78.

37 Galsworthy, J., Justice (New York, 1910), pp. 8184; E. Ruggles-Brise to W. Churchill, March 21, 1910, PRO, P.Com. 7/309. C. F. G. Masterman, parliamentary undersecretary at the Home Office, told Galsworthy at a Nation lunch in April that “he had turned the Home Office upside down with Justice”; quoted in Havighurst (n. 8 above), p. 163. Galsworthy kept up the pressure with a Penal Reform League leaflet, The Spirit of Punishment (London, 1910).

38 arrot, p. 266; Times (July 23, 1910), p. 4, letter from Galsworthy; PRO, P.Com. 7/310. See Addison, Paul, Churchill on the Home Front, 1900–1955 (London, 1992), p. 113.

39 Fry, S. Margery, “The State in Its Relation to Law-Breakers,” Friends Fellowship Papers (May 1920): 67. She also mentioned the prison experiences of the militant suffragists.

40 Snowden, Philip Viscount, An Autobiography (London, 1934), 1:410; Kennedy, T. C., “Public Opinion and the Conscientious Objector, 1915–1919,” Journal of British Studies 12 (May 1973): 113.

41 See Boulton, David, Objection Overruled (London, 1967), p. 220.

42 See Graham, J. W., Conscription and Conscience: A History, 1916–1919 (London, 1922), pp. 298–99.

43 See Boulton, p. 223; Peet, Hubert W., “Some Fruits of Silence,” Friends Quarterly Examiner (April 1920): 127–30. Most of the leadership and the rank and file of the No-Conscription Fellowship were from the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and the Quaker Society of Friends; see Kennedy, , “Public Opinion and the Conscientious Objector, 1915–1919,” p. 107.

44 See Wallhead, R. C., In Jail,” Socialist Review 15 (April-June 1918): 175; Gilbert, Martin, Plough My Own Furrow: The Story of Lord Allen of Hurtwood as Told through His Writings and Correspondence (London, 1965), pp. 62, 6668; Mason, E. Williamson, Made Free in Prison (London, 1918), pp. 134–35, 191–92; Catchpool, T. Corder, On Two Fronts (London, 1918), p. 171; Hobhouse, S., An English Prison from Within (London, 1919), pp. 29, 33; Brockway, A. Fenner, “Prisons as Crime Factories” (ILP pamphlet, London, 1919), pp. 48. If the silence rule were truly enforced, said Brockway, 90 percent of prisoners would lose their reason within a few months. See the comments made by the Poplar councillors imprisoned in September 1921 in Branson, N., Poplarism, 1919–1925: George Lansbury and the Councillors' Revolt (London, 1979), pp. 6768.

45 Papers of Arthur Creech Jones, Rhodes House Library, Oxford, MS British Empire S 332, box 1, file 2, fols. 194–97, n.d.: account of his thoughts in Wandsworth prison, quoted with permission from Violet Creech Jones. Creech Jones also noted: “We were always in touch with the ordinary prisoners. Many of them were incorrigible, infirm, maimed; some almost utterly depraved.”

46 Nine conscientious objectors died in prison; approximately sixty others died later from the aftereffects of prison treatment. See Rae, John, Conscience and Politics: The British Government and the Conscientious Objector to Military Service, 1916–1919 (London, 1970), p. 226.

47 Mrs.Hobhouse, Henry, I Appeal unto Caesar (London, 1917), pp. 4470; Vellacott, Jo, Bertrand Russell and the Pacifists in the First World War (Brighton, 1980), pp. 210–12.

48 See Brockway, A. F., Inside the Left (London, 1942), pp. 126–28, and Towards Tomorrow: The Autobiography of Fenner Brockway (London, 1977), p. 61. See also Hobhouse, S. and Brockway, A. F., English Prisons To-Day: Being the Report of the Prison System Enquiry Committee (London, 1922). For details of the membership of the Prison System Enquiry Committee, and for more on Hobhouse and Brockway, see p. 308 below.

49 See Hobhouse, Stephen, Forty Years and an Epilogue: An Autobiography (London, 1951), p. 176; Rose, Gordon, The Struggle for Penal Reform (London, 1961), pp. 108–9; PRO, Home Office (HO) 45/11543/357055/33.

50 PRO, HO 45/11543/357055/33.

51 Hobhouse and Brockway, p. 482; Ruggles-Brise, E., English Prison System (London, 1921).

52 Brockway, , Inside the Left, p. 129; personal interview with Fenner Brockway, June 1980.

53 Hobhouse and Brockway, pp. 561–62.

54 Ibid., p. 356.

55 Ibid., p. 561. Another continuing feature of prison administration was its dreary uniformity, encapsulated by Ruggles-Brise's 1911 comment, quoted in Hobhouse and Brockway, p. 97: “It is now 4-30 in the afternoon and I know that just now, at every Local and Convict Prison in England, the same things in general are being done, and that in general they are being done in the same way.”

56 It should be added, however, that there had doubtless been a change in expectations since the Gladstone Report, sufficient to sharpen the postwar critique.

57 Jones, Enid Huws, Margery Fry: The Essential Amateur (London, 1966), p. 113.

58 For example, Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 5th ser., vol. 156 (July 11, 1922), col. 1040. See also PRO, HO 45/11543/357055/54 and 55.

59 Bailey, Hobhouse, Forty Years and an Epilogue (n. 49 above), pp. 178–79. For Paterson, see Victor, , Delinquency and Citizenship: Reclaiming the Young Offender, 1914–1948 (Oxford, 1987), pp. 195–96.

60 PRO, HO 45/11033/428541.

61 See Rose, , The Struggle for Penal Reform (n. 49 above), p. 111; PRO, P.Com. 7/475.

62 PRO, HO 45/13658/185668/21; Fox, Lionel W., The English Prison and Borstal Systems (London, 1952), p. 68.

63 Quoted in Fox, pp. 70–71.

64 For details of ex-prisoner M.P.s, see Snowden (n. 40 above), p. 410; Pethick-Lawrence, Lord, Fate Has Been Kind (London, 1942), p. 130; Robbins, K., “Morgan Jones in 1916,” Llafur 1 (Summer 1975): 3843. Another influence on penal change, particularly in staff conditions, was the unrest among prison officers, which found expression in the growth of the National Union of Police and Prison Officers, and in the 1919 strike.

65 Brockway, A. F. in Socialist Review (September, October, and December 1926).

66 PRO, HO 45/13658/185668/21.

67 See PRO, HO 45/11543/357055/71; Editorial,” Howard Journal 1 (1922): 45.

68 For discussion of the definition of habitual criminality adopted by the 1908 act—one that failed to distinguish clearly between the habitual professional and the habitual petty nuisance—see Wiener (n. 23 above), p. 347; Radzinowicz and Hood (n. 2 above), pp. 266–67.

69 Petrow, S., Policing Morals: The Metropolitan Police and the Home Office, 1870–1914 (Oxford, 1994), p. 111.

70 See pp. 320–22 below for Churchill's critical approach to preventive detention.

71 Radzinowicz and Hood, p. 286. See also Morris, N., The Habitual Criminal (Cambridge, Mass., 1951), p. 80; Forsythe, , Penal Discipline, Reformatory Projects and the English Prison Commission, 1895–1939 (n. 26 above), p. 243, and Reformatory Projects in British Prisons, 1780–1939: Recent Writings and Lessons from the Past,” in History and Sociology of Crime, ed. Robert, P. and Emsley, C. (Pfaffenweiler, 1991), p. 54.

72 See Bailey, , Delinquency and Citizenship (n. 59 above), pp. 186–91, esp. p. 189.

73 See Wiener, p. 188; Radzinowicz and Hood, pp. 308–13.

74 Eugenics, based on the belief that the physical and mental condition of the population was determined more by heredity than environment, had an influential following up to 1914. Eugenists predicted race degeneration if the “unfit” were allowed to reproduce themselves more rapidly than the “fit.” See Searle, G. R., Eugenics and Politics in Britain, 1900–1914 (Leyden, 1976); Freeden, M., “Eugenics and Progressive Thought: A Study in Ideological Affinity,” Historical Journal 22 (1979): 658; Harris, Jose, Private Lives, Public Spirit: A Social History of Britain 1870–1914 (Oxford, 1993), pp. 244–45.

75 See Simmons, H. G., “Explaining Social Policy: The English Mental Deficiency Act of 1913,” Journal of Social History 11 (19771978): 399; Hunt, G., Mellor, J., and Turner, J., “Wretched, Hatless and Miserably Clad: Women and the Inebriate Reformatories from 1900–1913,” British Journal of Sociology 40 (June 1989): 246.

76 Harding, C. and Wilkin, L., “‘The Dream of a Benevolent Mind’: The Late Victorian Response to the Problem of Inebriety,” Criminal Justice History 9 (1988): 198.

77 Zedner, L., “Women, Crime, and Penal Responses: A Historical Account,” in Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, ed. Tonry, M., vol. 14 (Chicago, 1991), p. 308.

78 Ibid., pp. 343, 353. See Simmons, p. 393.

79 Hunt et al., p. 246; Radzinowicz and Hood (n. 2 above), pp. 311–14.

80 Garland, , Punishment and Welfare (n. 18 above), pp. 227–28.

81 Wiener (n. 23 above), p. 186.

82 I am not arguing that ideological forms were the only influence on the penal system; I am arguing that positivism was only one, and not the most important, framework of social and political thought in the Edwardian debate on prisons.

83 For the early nineteenth-century, humanitarian concern for the protection from abuse of prisoners and lunatics, see Laqueur, T. W., “Bodies, Details, and the Humanitarian Narrative,” in The New Cultural History, ed. Hunt, Lynn (Berkeley, 1989), p. 179; Scull, Andrew, The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain, 1700–1900 (New Haven, Conn., 1993), p. 380. See also Wiener, Martin, ed., “Special Issue: Humanitarianism or Control? A Symposium on Aspects of Nineteenth Century Social Reform in Britain and America,” Rice University Studies, vol. 67 (Winter 1981). And see Haskell, T. L., “Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility, Parts 1 & 2,” American Historical Review 90 (April and June 1985): 339–61, 547–66.

84 See Harrison, Rose, The Struggle for Penal Reform (n. 49 above), pp. 5657; Garland, , Punishment and Welfare, p. 109; Wiener, p. 335. Salt and the Humanitarian League supported the Daily Chronicle's 1894 campaign for a prison inquiry; see McConville, , English Local Prisons (n. 5 above), p. 580. For Salt's and the league's agitation against cruel sports, and for Carpenter's opposition to vivisection, see Brian, , Peaceable Kingdom: Stability and Change in Modern Britain (Oxford, 1982). pp. 91, 108, 150.

85 See Salt, Henry S., Seventy Years among Savages (London, 1921), p. 140; Hendrick, George, Henry Salt: Humanitarian Reformer and Man of Letters (Urbana, Ill., 1977), p. 77; Weinbren, Forsythe, Penal Discipline, Reformatory Projects and the English Prison Commission, 1895–1939 (n. 26 above), p. 23; Dan, , “Against All Cruelty: The Humanitarian League, 1891–1919,” History Workshop Journal 38 (Autumn 1994): 9295.

86 Carpenter, E., Prisons Police and Punishment (London, 1905), p. 120.

87 See Carpenter, E., England's Ideal and Other Papers on Social Subjects (London, 1895), pp. 122, and Prisons Police and Punishment, pp. 61–77; Tsuzuki, C., Edward Carpenter, 1844–1929 (Cambridge, 1980), p. 113.

88 Ellis, Havelock, The Criminal (London, 1890). See Grosskurth, Phyllis, Havelock Ellis (New York, 1980), pp. 69, 114–16; McGowen, R. E., “Rethinking Crime: Changing Attitudes towards Law-Breakers in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century England” (Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1979), pp. 311–14.

89 See Morrison, McGowen, “Rethinking Crime,” pp. 301–11; Radzinowicz and Hood (n. 2 above), pp. 86–88; W., D., “The Study of Crime,” Mind, no. 4 (Oct. 1892): 489517; Garland, David, “British Criminology before 1935,” British Journal of Criminology 28 (Spring 1988): 7; Lombroso, C. and Ferrero, W., The Female Offender (New York, 1916), introduction by W. D. Morrison, pp. v–xx.

90 See Galsworthy, The Spirit of Punishment (n. 37 above); John, Arthur St., Prison Regime (London, 1913), and Reception Houses (London, [1918?]); PRO, HO 45/11543/357055/16.

91 PRO, HO 45/11543/357055/33; Hobhouse, Stephen, Forty Years and an Epilogue (n. 49 above), pp. 133–34; Hendrick, p. 161. For the contribution of conscientious objectors to the Prison System Enquiry Committee, see pp. 298–99 above.

92 Hobhouse, S., “The Silence System in British Prisons,” Friends' Quarterly Examiner (July 1918): 263.

93 PRO, HO 45/ 11543/ 357055/ 33; A. Fenner Brockway, Inside the Left (n. 48 above), chap. 13.

94 Garland, Garland, Punishment and Welfare (n. 18 above), pp. 108–9, 123. In fairness, Garland states that the approach of the penal reform groups to the “criminological programme” was “mediated by Christian evangelicalism, which allowed a large degree of policy support, but prohibited any total endorsement of the programme as a whole” (ibid., p. 109). In more recent work, moreover, Garland acknowledges the need to include sensibilities in the examination of penal policy and speculates on the contribution of humanitarian values to change in penal laws and institutions; see David, , Punishment and Modern Society (n. 21 above), p. 198, Sociological Perspectives on Punishment,” in Tonry, , ed. (n. 77 above), p. 142, and Criminological Knowledge and Its Relation to Power: Foucault's Genealogy and Criminology Today,” British Journal of Criminology 32 (Autumn 1992): 411–12.

95 See Richter, Melvin, The Politics of Conscience: T. H. Green and His Age (London, 1964), p. 13, and T. H. Green and His Audience: Liberalism as a Surrogate Faith,” Review of Politics 18 (October 1956): 444. For the most recent assessment of the influence of Idealist thought on the structural transformation of welfare provision, see Harris, Jose, “The Webbs, the Charity Organisation Society and the Ratan Tata Foundation: Social Policy from the Perspective of 1912,” in The Goals of Social Policy, ed. Bulmer, al. (London, 1989), pp. 5155, and “Political Thought and the Welfare State, 1870–1940” (n. 27 above).

96 The next paragraph is based on Himmelfarb, G., Poverty and Compassion: The Moral Imagination of the Late Victorians (New York, 1991), chap. 17; Ulam, Adam B., Philosophical Foundations of English Socialism (Cambridge, Mass., 1951), pp. 3438; Vincent, A. and Plant, R., Philosophy, Politics and Citizenship: The Life and Thought of the British Idealists (Oxford, 1984), pp. 2, 40, 52; Harris, J., Private Lives, Public Spirit (n. 74 above), pp. 248–50.

97 T. H. Green, “Principles of Political Obligation,” par. 7., in Works of Thomas Hill Green, ed. Nettleship, R. L., vol. 2 (1886; 5th impression, London, 1906).

98 See Morrow, J., “Ancestors, Legacies and Traditions: British Idealism in the History of Political Thought,” History of Political Thought 6 (Winter 1985): 510; Meacham, S., Toynbee Hall and Social Reform, 1880–1914 (New Haven, Conn., 1987), pp. 1214. See also Attlee, Clement, The Social Worker (London, 1920).

99 Green, par. 205.

100 Ibid., par. 206. See Acton, H. B., The Philosophy of Punishment (London, 1969), p. 11; Harris, Paul, “Moral Progress and Politics: The Theory of T. H. Green,” Polity 21 (Spring 1989): 542. See also Jones, Henry, The Working Faith of the Social Reformer (London, 1910), p. 254.

101 Bosanquet, B., The Philosophical Theory of the State (London, 1910), p. 223.

102 Ibid., p. 224.

103 Bosanquet, B., Some Suggestions in Ethics (London, 1918), pp. 200202, emphasis in original.

104 Ibid., p. 207.

105 Ibid., p. 183.

106 See Radzinowicz and Hood (n. 2 above), pp. 18–19.

107 See Watson, S., “Malingerers, the ‘Weakminded’ Criminal and the ‘Moral Imbecile’: How the English Prison Medical Officer Became an Expert in Mental Deficiency, 1880–1930,” in Legal Medicine in History, ed. Clark, M. and Crawford, C. (Cambridge, 1994): 229; Hobhouse and Brockway (n. 47 above), pp. 257–85. See also Wiener (n. 23 above), p. 234; and Garland, , “British Criminology before 1935” (n. 89 above), p. 5.

108 Fox (n. 62 above), pp. 62–63.

109 Ruggles-Brise, E., Prison Reform: At Home and Abroad (London, 1924), p. 193.

110 See Report of the Commissioners of Prisons … for 1912–1913, Cd. 7092, PP, 1914, vol. 45, pp. 2223.

111 E. Ruggles-Brise memo, April 18, 1910, PRO, HO 45/13658/185668/6.

112 Goring, Charles, The English Convict: A Statistical Study, abridged ed. (London, 1919), preface by E. Ruggles-Brise, p. vi. See Beirne, Ruggles-Brise, English Prison System (n. 51 above), pp. 198212. See also Radzinowicz and Hood, pp. 21–26; Wiener, p. 357; Piers, , Inventing Criminology: Essays on the Rise of Homo Criminalis (New York, 1993), p. 213. Hobhouse and Brockway's English Prisons To-Day confirmed the view that the criminal type was manufactured by the prison system.

113 Quoted in Thomas, D. A., Constraints on Judgment: The Search for Structured Discretion in Sentencing, 1860–1910 (Cambridge, 1979), p. 27. See Radzinowicz and Hood, p. 268, n. 17; E. Ruggles-Brise memo, July 13, 1910, PRO, HO 144/18869/196919/3.

114 Ruggles-Brise, , Prison Reform, p. 195.

115 Edward Marsh to W. Churchill, August 23, 1910, in Churchill, Randolph, Winston S. Churchill: Companion Volume (Boston, 1969), 2, pt. 2:1196.

116 E. Ruggles-Brise memo, April 9. 1910, PRO, HO 144/1085/193548/1.

117 Radzinowicz and Hood (n. 2 above), pp. 269–71.

118 Ruggles-Brise, , English Prison System, p. 3. Ruggles-Brise was liverishly unsympathetic, therefore, to the Penal Reform League's 1918 complaints about degrading prison garb, “spy hole” practice, and the exclusion of outside news; see PRO, HO 45/11543/357055/9.

119 See Forsythe, , Penal Discipline, Reformatory Projects and the English Prison Commission, 1895–1939 (n. 26 above), p. 239; Garland, , “British Criminology before 1935” (n. 89 above), p. 5. Idealism's influence might also explain, at least in part, the continued resort to voluntary agencies as an adjunct to the penal system, notably for discharged prisoners, probation, and Borstal aftercare. This feature of the penal system was of particular concern to Ruggles-Brise.

120 For Idealism's influence on ethical socialism, see Greenleaf, W. H., The British Political Tradition (New York, 1983), 2:139; and Himmelfarb (n. 96 above), p. 261. See also Dennis, N. and Halsey, A. H., English Ethical Socialism (Oxford, 1988), pp. 112.

121 See Allen, Clifford in Bell, Julian, ed., We Did Not Fight (London, 1935), p. 28; Kennedy, T. C., The Hound of Conscience: A History of the No-Conscription Fellowship, 1914–1919 (Fayetteville, Ark., 1981), p. 48; Vellacott (n. 47 above), p. 29. See also Report of the Annual Conference of the I.L.P. (London, 1916), pp. 7274. The treasurer of the No-Conscription Fellowship was Edward Grubb, a Quaker and former secretary of the Howard Association for Penal Reform.

122 Tolstoy, Leo, What I Believe (Geneva, 1888). S. Hobhouse's quote is in Bell, ed., p. 167. Hobhouse was from a wealthy Quaker family, but he renounced his inheritance of the family estate. For other details, see Rose, Hobhouse, Forty Years and an Epilogue (n. 49 above), pp. 174–77; A., G., “Some Influences on English Penal Reform, 1895-1921,” Sociological Review 3 (July 1955); 3437; Ceadel, Martin, Pacifism in Britain, 1914–1945 (Oxford, 1980), p. 43.

123 S. Hobhouse in Bell, ed., p. 166.

124 Quoted in Gilbert (n. 44 above), p. 5. See Winter, J. M., Socialism and the Challenge of War (London, 1974), p. 129. Bertrand Russell, chairman of the No-Conscription Fellowship during the final years of the war, also turned to guild socialism; see Gwyn, W. B., “The Labour Party and the Threat of Bureaucracy,” Political Studies 19 (December 1971): 385.

125 See Roberts, H. E., “Years of Struggle: The Life and Work of Robin Page Arnot,” Labour History Review 59 (Autumn 1994): 5863.

126 MacKenzie, N. and MacKenzie, J., The First Fabians (London, 1977), p. 62. See also Olivier, Margaret, ed., Sydney Olivier: Letters and Selected Writings (London, 1948), chap. 3. The other committee members were penal reformers; see p. 308 above.

127 Rhodes House Library, Arthur Creech Jones Papers, MS British Empire S 332, box 1, file 2, fol. 142: letter from Hounslow barracks, January 9, 1917.

128 Minutes of Evidence to the Departmental Committee on Prisons, C. 7702-1, PP, 1895, vol. 56, question 11482, p. 459. See Pellew, J., “Law and Order: Expertise and the Victorian Home Office,” in Government and Expertise: Specialists, Administrators and Professionals, 1860–1919, ed. MacLeod, R. (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 6869. For a subtle and convincing assessment of Lushington's evidence to the Gladstone Committee, one that reveals that the permanent undersecretary defended the existing “punitive and deterrent” prison system yet faulted “the general spirit of administration,” for which Du Cane was responsible, see McConville, , English Local Prisons (n. 5 above), pp. 625–32.

129 Report from the Departmental Committee on Prisons (n. 7 above), p. 12.

130 Bailey, Victor, “Churchill as Home Secretary: Prison Reform,” History Today 35 (March 1985): 11.

131 Neale, K., “Her Majesty's Commissioners, 1878–1978” (Home Office, London, 1978, private circulation), pp. 1920; Sutherland, E. H., “The Decreasing Prison Population of England.” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 24 (1933): 880900. The figures specifically for women tell the same story. At the turn of the century, 50,000 women were annually committed to prison, largely for prostitution and drunkenness. In 1918, commitments were 14,922, a drop of 72 percent. The daily average in local prisons fell from about 3,000 to 1,500 prisoners. See E. Ruggles-Brise memo, October 22, 1918, PRO, HO 45/11543/357055/9.

132 For the figures cited, see Webb, Sidney and Webb, Beatrice, English Prisons under Local Government (1922; reprint, London, 1963), p. 248; Rutherford, Ruggles-Brise, English Prison System (n. 51 above), pp. 224–25; A., , Prisons and the Process of Justice: The Reductionist Challenge (London, 1984), pp. 123, 130, and Lessons from a Reductionist Era,” in Robert, and Emsley, , eds. (n. 71 above), pp. 5960. The rate of indictable crime recorded by the police rose by less than 10 percent between 1900 and 1921; see McClintock, F. H. and Avison, N. H., Crime in England and Wales (London, 1968), pp. 1824.

133 Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 5th ser., vol. 19 (July 20, 1910), col. 1344.

134 Blunt, W. S., My Diaries (New York, 1922), pt. 2, p. 335.

135 W. Churchill minute, August 13, 1910, PRO, HO 144/18869/196919/1.

136 Cabinet paper, “Abatement of Imprisonment,” in R. Churchill (n. 115 above), 2, pt. 2:1198–1203; PRO, HO 45/10613/194534. For the full history of imprisonment for debt, see Rubin, G. R., “Law, Poverty and Imprisonment for Debt, 1869–1914,” in Law, Economy and Society, 1750–1914: Essays in the History of English Law, ed. Rubin, G. R. and Sugarman, D. (Abingdon, 1984), pp. 241–99.

137 PRO, HO 144/18869/196919/1.

138 See also Webb and Webb, p. 248. And see Badinter, Robert, La prison républicaine (1871–1914) (Paris, 1992): the penal reforms introduced in France (suspended sentence, conditional release, educational solutions for juveniles) all had as their aim the avoidance of the prison, not its reformation.

139 See Radzinowicz and Hood (n. 2 above), pp. 770, 773; Addison (n. 38 above), pp. 112–17; Thomas (n. 113 above), pp. 40, 46–47.

140 PRO, HO 45/10589/184160/23.

141 Ibid., 184160/25a. See also Thomas, pp. 41–45; Addison, pp. 118–19.

142 PRO, HO 144/18869/196919/2.

143 See PRO, HO 144/A60866/4; HO 45/10520/138276/57; Radzinowicz and Hood, pp. 372–75; Addison, pp. 123–26; Searle (n. 74 above), pp. 107–8. According to his friend, William Scawen Blunt, Churchill was “a strong eugenist”; see Blunt, p. 399 (entry for October 20, 1912). When the Cabinet discussed the issue of “the unfit” in December 1911, Churchill presented Dr. A. F. Tredgold's article, “The Feeble-Minded—a Social Danger,” which warned of the peril of “national degeneracy.” See Morgan, Ted, Churchill: Young Man in a Hurry, 1874–1915 (New York, 1982), p. 289.

144 Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 5th ser., vol. 19 (July 20, 1910), col. 1354.

145 PRO, HO 45/1085/193548/1.

146 Wilde, , The Soul of Man (n. 10 above), p. 193.

147 Bailey, Delinquency and Citizenship (n. 59 above).

148 Webb and Webb (n. 132 above), pp. 247–48.

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English Prisons, Penal Culture, and the Abatement of Imprisonment, 1895–1922

  • Victor Bailey


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