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Victorian Crime and Punishment
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Punishment and Rehabilitation

An Overview of Punishment and Reward

There were a variety of punishments for prisoners who broke the rules. The most common offence was breaking the rules on silence. Prisoners could be placed in leg irons for short periods or confined to their cell. Given bread and water only to eat for a short period or lose any remission.

Juvenile offenders could be placed in leg irons or beaten. The gaol and the House of Correction in Bedford were supposed to operate the silent system. Prisoners were allowed to work together but had to keep completely silent. If they spoke to each other they were punished by being whipped, or deprived of exercise, or made to do extra work.

However many prisons also had rewards for good behaviour. In Millbrook Convict gaol had badges for good conduct could be earned and these could affect treatment of those transported. Prisoners in the County or Local Gaols could earn an early release for good behaviour prior to 1865. In Pankhurst young offenders could earn extra food, the ability to wear their own clothes or even time tending a plot in the prison garden.