Victorian Prison Conditions

Life Inside

OPCM

Photo:The Whipping Post Lawford's Gate Prison

The Whipping Post Lawford's Gate Prison

Life in Prison

Life in prison starts with the admission procedure and this must come as an enormous shock to the first time offender. The realisation of what has happened to him, and what he may experience in the future, probably sinks in for the first time. The gates close behind the prisoner and the physical examination begins in order to provide a description of the person and to note any distinquishing marks. Once completed it's a bath and his hair is cropped to the scalp, not so much to get the prisoner clean but to humiliate him. He then dons his prison clothes and his past life as a free man is obliterated as he  starts a new life as a prisoner of Her Majesty.

The diet of the convicted prisoner in the gaol was restricted to one pound of bread per day, and for dinner, two pounds of potatoes or half a pound of boiled rice with treacle. No meat was supplied. This restrictive diet led to illness and death among the prisoners, so  the justice ordered that five ounces of meat and soup could be given twice a week and a larger portion of bread on those days when meat was not allowed.

Photo:Male Prisioners Numbered Tread-Mill Sheds and Picking Oakum

Male Prisioners Numbered Tread-Mill Sheds and Picking Oakum

Mayhew, "The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of Prison Life", 1862

 

Dietaries for Different Classes of Prisoner

From 1843 onward, the government expected a minimum standard of food to be given to prisoners in all establishments throughout the country.

Photo:The silent system

The silent system



CLASS 1
 
1st.- Convicted Prisoners not sentenced to hard labour, whose period of confinement does not exceed. fourteen days

2nd.- Prisoners in close confinement for Prison offences for the same period.

BREAKFAST,..10 ounces of Bread
DINNER,..11 ounces ditto
SUPPER,..11 ounces ditto

CLASS 2 

1st.- Convicted Prisoners sentenced to hard labour for any term not exceeding fourteen days.

2nd.- Convicted Prisoners not sentenced to hard labour, whose period of confinement exceeds fourteen days, but does not exceed twenty-one days.

3rd.- Prisoners in close confinement for Prison offences, for periods exceeding fourteen days, and not exceeding twenty-one days.

BREAKFAST,..8 ounces of Bread, 1 pint of Gruel

Photo:A prisoner at Dartmoor is forced to turn a crank handle repeatedly as a form of punishment, as depicted in an illustration dated 1884

A prisoner at Dartmoor is forced to turn a crank handle repeatedly as a form of punishment, as depicted in an illustration dated 1884

Victorian Crime and Punishment


DINNER, ..8 ounces of Bread.
SUPPER,..8 ounces of Bread, 1 pint of Gruel

CLASS 3

1st.- Convicted Prisoners not sentenced to hard labour, whose period of confinement exceeds twenty-one days.

2nd.- Convicted Prisoners sentenced to hard labour but disqualified for it by natural infirmity.

3rd.- Convicted Prisoners sentenced to hard labour, whose period of confinement exceeds fourteen days, and does not exceed six weeks.

4th.- Prisoners in close confinement for periods exceeding twenty-one days.

5th.- Prisoners committed for trial or for further examination.

BREAKFAST,..8 ounces of bread, 1 pint of gruel
DINNER,..Four days in the week, 8 ounces of bread, 1 pound of potatoes, or 2 ounces of cheese, if potatoes fail. Two days, 8 ounces of bread and 3 ounces of cooked meat, without bone. One day, 8 ounces of bread and 1 pint of soup.
SUPPER,..8 ounces of bread, 1 pint of gruel

Photo:The Crank

The Crank

Victorian Crime and Punishment



CLASS 4

Convicted Prisoners sentenced to hard labour, whose period of confinement exceeds six weeks, and does not exceed three calendar months.

BREAKFAST,..8 ounces of bread, 1 pint of gruel
DINNER..Three days in the week, 8 ounces of bread, 1 pound of potatoes, or 2 ounces of cheese, if potatoes fail. Two days, 8 ounces of bread and 3 ounces of cooked meat, without bone, and half a pound of potatoes. Two days, 8 ounces of bread and 1 pint of soup.
SUPPER,..8 ounces of bread, 1 pint of gruel

CLASS 5

Convicted Prisoners sentenced to hard labour, whose period of confinement exceeds three calendar months.

BREAKFAST,..10 ounces of bread, 1 pint of gruel
Photo:Opened in 1850. Like many prisons in the 19th century, HMP Kingston adopted the policy of hard labour on unproductive tasks. Those forced to work the treadmill or tread wheel were forced to climb 8,640 feet in 6 hours.

Opened in 1850. Like many prisons in the 19th century, HMP Kingston adopted the policy of hard labour on unproductive tasks. Those forced to work the treadmill or tread wheel were forced to climb 8,640 feet in 6 hours.


DINNER,..Two days in the week, 11 ounces of bread, 1 and a half pound of potatoes, or 3 ounces of cheese, when potatoes fail. Three days, 11 ounces of bread, 4 ounces of cooked meat, without bone, and half a pound of potatoes. Two days, 11 ounces of bread, 1 pint of soup, 1 pound of potatoes.
SUPPER,..11 ounces of bread, 1 pint of gruel

FEMALES AND JUVENILES

BREAKFAST,..8 ounces of bread, 1 pint of gruel
DINNER,..Two days in the week, 8 ounces of bread, and 1 pound of potatoes, or 2 ounces of cheese when potatoes fail. On other days, 8 ounces of bread, and other Dietary the same as Adult Males.
SUPPER,..8 ounces of bread, 1 pint of gruel.

CLASS 6

Prisoners in solitary confinement for Prison offences.

One pound of bread per day.

                           Thanks Victorian Crime and Punishment

Thanks Ian Swift

 

 

This gallery was added by Paul Beaken on 18/04/2013.

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