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Tag Archives: Criminal Justice System – England

Prisons and Punishments: The Crank Mill

The punishment of forcing convicts to step on a treadmill–a large, long rotating cylinder with steps attached along the outside–failed to take hold in America, even though England used it successfully for years in its prisons. Proponents of the punishment argued that the treadmill turned prisoners into productive citizens by making them work and provide […]

Prisons and Punishments: The Failure of the Treadmill in America

In 1822, when the American press began to circulate articles praising the use of a new invention in England that would instill fear in convicted felons and turn them into productive citizens, politicians, prison officials, and the press in America took notice. The invention was a treadmill, a large, long cylinder equipped with steps that […]

Prisons and Punishments: Inventive Ways to Cut Prison Costs

Cutting government budgets is on the minds of almost everyone nowadays. All levels of government seem to have empty coffers and are looking for new ways to save money in the midst of persistent societal needs. This situation is prompting many state governments to reexamine how they punish their criminals and to look for creative […]

Early American Criminals: Thomas Hellier’s “Hell upon Earth”

With the ill treatment by his mistress “burning and broyling in [his] Breast,” Thomas Hellier, an indentured servant on a Virginia plantation, knew he had to escape. In 1677, Hellier was tricked into signing an indentured servant contract back in England with the promise that he would not be forced to perform physical labor and […]

Early American Criminals: Joseph Andrews in the News

As soon as Joseph Andrews read the newspaper article in the St. Christopher’s Gazette, which reproduced the deposition William Harris gave to the authorities, he knew he had to leave the Caribbean island of St. Eustatia immediately. The decision was a wise one, because as soon as Governor John De Windt read the same story […]

Special Announcement: My New Book on Convict Transportation Is Now Available

My new book, Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America, has just been published by Pickpocket Publishing and is available for purchase. I hope you enjoy reading it. Amazon.com: Paperback ($16.99) and Kindle ($4.99). Smashwords: All e-book formats ($4.99). The book will soon be […]

In the Media: Interview with Lucy Inglis of Georgian London

I was recently in London and had the good fortune to interview and enjoy afternoon tea with Lucy Inglis, who is the author/publisher of Georgian London. Lucy and I met on Monday, April 18 at Blacks in Soho, London, and we talked about eighteenth-century London, crime, and the perception of Americans by Londoners during […]

In the Media: The Supreme Court and the Execution of Children

J. L. Bell, who writes the Boston 1775 blog, recently wrote a series of posts that breaks down the recent ruling by the Supreme Court on whether a life sentence for a seventeen-year-old convicted of two armed robberies–or for any juvenile offender who hasn’t committed murder–constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment to […]

Convict Transportation to America: Epilogue

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Almost as soon as British convict transportation to America ended, Americans began to downplay the numbers and significance of convicts sent to the colonies. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson led the way by claiming, The Malefactors sent to America were not […]

The End of Convict Transportation: One Last Gasp and the Australian Solution

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. The American Revolution brought an abrupt end to the British practice of transporting convicts to America. Back in England, the supposedly temporary solution of housing convicts on prison hulks in the River Thames to relieve prison overcrowding only had a […]