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Characteristics of imprisonment in the nineteenth century
During the 17th century, prison was any place that the offenders were held while awaiting the punishment. During the 17th century, London Bridewell house was constructed as a prototype prison that could hold the disorderly poor in order to instill the habits of work through prison labour. The 19th century witnessed the implementation of the first state prison that was the national penitentiary at Millbank in London. The prisoners were kept in separate cells, but were allowed to associate during the day. Pentoville prions was constructed in 1842 with cells measuring 13 feet long, 9 feet high and 7 feet in width and operated a separate system that entailed solitary confinement of the prisoners. Peel’s Gaol Act of 1823 had separated the prisons depending on the status of the offender. The prisoners were confined in a separate cell and were tied with rope and communication to other prisoners was impossible. Select Committee of the House of Lords recommended for the appointment of Prison Inspectorate and implementation of silent prison system. The first stage of silent system was solitary confinement for a period of up to nine months that was coupled with hard labour and prayers in the cells. The second penal stage was the provision of sleep and meals in a separate cell, but the prisoner would be allowed to work with the rest of prisoners. The third stage was consisted the conditional release on account of good conduct and constant police supervision. Under the silent system, food was monotonous, beds were replaced with hammocks in order to cause the offender sleepless nights and hard labour entailed Oakum picking in order to separate the fibres of an old ship’s ropes for reuse.