Eighteenth Century Prison Conditions

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Eighteenth Century Prison Conditions

Eighteenth century prisons had appalling conditions. The conditions in

every aspect were horrendous, the cells were bare, empty rooms except

for a bed and if you were lucky a fireplace with overcrowding in most

prisons affecting conditions, prison was not the best place to be

living unless you were rich. Most conditions were due to the fact that

no one tried or attempted to rehabilitate the prisoners, prisons were

just built to hold people until they were either hung or had paid off

their debt. Some prisons didn't even segregate prisoners according to

their crime, age or sex. This led to young children being influenced

by the older more 'experienced' prisoners.

As I said prisons were only built to hold not rehabilitate so

conditions were bad. This was not just one or two prisons this was all

prisons up and down the country. A quote from 'a description of a

prison at Southwell, Nottinghamshire 1806' will back up my claims as

it describes a prison at southwell. It reads as follows ' they all us

e the same room for every purpose, nearly 18 foot 6 inches square; of

this space the beds take up more than a quarter, yet in this small

space have been seven to eleven men often more'. This proves that

severe overcrowding did occur and often in a very small space.

The extract also says ' lying on lose straw, without any bedclothes,

except such as friends had supplied. Night- tubs, cooking utensils,

plates, basins, meat cooked and raw, potatoes, coals and other

articles of food or dress jumbled together, dirty and unclean…where

even wretched prisoners complained that living with vermin and filth

was one of the worst parts of their punishment.'

The two extract taken out of the description both demonstrate clearly

that conditions in prisons were severely bad with overcrowding and

vermin being among the worst.

In many ways Berwick is a good example of an 18th century prison

because conditions in Berwick are typical of appalling conditions at

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