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Victorian Crime and Punishment
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Daily Life

An Overview of Labour in Gaols

Treadmill

In Victorian times all prisoners had to work in the gaols, with the type of work depending on whether a prisoner had been sentenced to hard labour.

The main aim of labour in prisons, especially 'hard labour', was punishment. Much of it had little other purpose. Sometimes 'industrial employment' could be found for inmates and the sale of goods made helped offset the costs of the prison and allowed prisoners to earn small sums to help them on their release. There was also a certain amount of labour in the service of the prison - cooking, cleaning etc.

For more details see the section on hard labour in Punishment and Rehabilitation