Hannah ChoiVictorian Justice

In the Victorian age, there was a low tolerance of crime. The crime rate was rising due to increasing poverty as a result of the Industrial Revolution. People were in need of someone who would tolerate crimes ("A Victorian Prison"). The justice system back in the Victorian age was very different from present day’s justice system. Today, police will arrest criminals, the public prosecution service will decide whether to bring the case to court, and the defendant will have a defense lawyer and legal aid. However, there was no police in England until 1856. Police officers were not the only ones who were absent. When in court, it was rare to have a defense lawyer because not a lot of people could afford to have one. People back then received no legal aid before the court. Even prosecutions were done by private individuals instead of prosecutors. (Jackson 1). Common crimes in the Victorian age included theft and rioting. The crimes committed were divided into three categories: summary offense for minor crimes, indictable offense for serious crimes, and felonies for death sentences. Two most common punishments for the crimes were transportation, which is sending of the offender to other countries, and execution. Other punishments include imprisonment, hard labor, physical punishment, and paying fines ("19th Century Justice"). Prisoners were divided according tot he type of crime they committed, and every group was kept separate. The society made some attempts to solve social problems. They saw that transporting was never going to solve the problem. In 1840, they adopted the separate system. They will be in their cell, not allowed interact with anyone. The idea was to make them face up to themselves. However, in 1860, they adopted the silent system instead thinking that habitual criminals never learn. They kept the prisoner in total silence and make them do long, pointless, and hard labor ("A Victorian Prison"). The gaoler was in charge of the whole prison and the prison ran according to his rules. At the beginning of the age, prisons were mostly small, old, and badly run. They were built for separation purposes only. Prisons usually included a treadmill. 90 new prisons were built between 1842 and 1877 due to increasing crime rate. Debts were considered as crimes in Victorian England. Debtors were sent to prison until they pay back all their debt. They were allowed more visitors than others. Also, debtors did not have to do hard labor due to Prisons Act. More than half of the prisoners were debtors in the Victorian age (Jackson).

Works Cited
"19th Century Justice." E2BN. Victorian Crime &Punishment, 2006. Web. 11 Feb. 2010.
"A Victorian Prison." The National Archives. The National Archives, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2010.
Jackson, Peter. "Rough Justice." BBC. BBC News, 2009. Web. 11 Feb. 2010.

-This is a picture that shows how a common cell looked like in the Victorian age.

"Pentonville Cells." E2BN. Victorian Crime &Punishment, 2006. Web. 11 Feb. 2010


-This is a picture of how a jail looked like.

"Panopticons." E2BN. Victorian Crime &Punishment, 2006. Web. 11 Feb. 2010

- This is a picture of prisoners working on the treadmills.

"A Victorian Prison." The National Archives. The National Archives, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2010.


For Further Research

- This website provides many case studies of criminals of Victorian Age in flash. This website can be said that it is reliable, firstly because it ends with .org. Also, its sponser is E2BN. E2BN is an RBC set up by the government.

- This website talks about Victorian justice related to Oliver Twist, one of the famous stories. I know that this website is reliable by looking at that it is a PBS website. PBS is one of the top .org websites. It owns copyright to all its posts.