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Analyse how the treatment of offenders was approached under ‘Crofton’s ‘Irish system’’ in the 1850s and 1860s?

Analyse how the treatment of offenders was approached under ‘Crofton’s ‘Irish system’’ in the 1850s and 1860s?

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Joseph Curran. Originally submitted for History and Political Science , with lecturer Dr Ciaran O'Neill in the category of Historical Studies & Archaeology
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Joseph Curran. Originally submitted for History and Political Science , with lecturer Dr Ciaran O'Neill in the category of Historical Studies & Archaeology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
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11/15/2014

 
1
Analyse how the treatment of offenders was approached under
Crofton
’s ‘
Irish system
’’
1
in the1850s and 1860s?
Abstract:
This essay explores the power relations that existed under the so-
called ‘Crofton’ or ‘Irish’ system of 
open prisons that attracted much international attention in the mid-nineteenth century asgovernments and social campaigners looked for new ways to deal with offenders. The analysis drawson concepts from the social sciences, particularly the power theories of Lukes, Foucault, and Mann. It demonstrates the importance of religion and ideas about gender in the formulation of prison policy.It also provides significant insights into the complex power relations in nineteenth-century Irishsociety more generally.
the Irish system makes use of every agency, both inside and outside of the prison, that can beapplied to the improvement of the convicts; compulsion and voluntary activity, freedom andrestraint, moral and social power, government and society, police and church, are united inone common effort to influence the mind of the convict, who ....reforms himself.
2
 
This essay will analyse the methods used to deal with offenders under the
Irish
system’ of 
convict management usually associated with Walter Crofton, who helped introduce it toIreland in mid-1850s when chair of the Irish Convict Prisons Board.
3
Analyses of the
‘C
rofton system
tend to focus on its success or wider influence, this essay will examine howpower was exercised through the system and what this reveals about power-relations in
1
Thomas Krause, ‘The influence of Sir Walter Crofton’s ‘Irish system’ on prison reform in Germany’, in Paul
Brand et al (eds),
 Adventures of the Law, proceedings of the Sixteenth British Legal History Conference, Dublin,2003
(Dublin and Portland, Oregon, 2005), p. 234.
2
Franz Von Holtzendorff,
 Reflections and Observations on the Present Condition of the Irish Convict Systemtranslated from the German of Baron Von Holtzendorff, Professor of Law in the University of Berlin By Mrs Lentaigne
(Dublin, 1863) pp. 28-29, for Von Holtzendorff see
Thomas Krause, ‘The influence of Sir Walter Crofton’s ‘Irish system’ on prison reform in Germany’, p. 240.
 
3
 
The system will be referred to as the ‘Crofton system’ for convenience although it will be seen that Walter 
Crofton was not its only advocate, Crofton had been involved in a government-appointed investigation into IrishPrisons prior to the establishment of the Convict Prisons Board, Tim Carey,
 Mountjoy, The Story of a Prison
(Cork, 2000), p. 66, Seán Aylward an
d Jim Mitchell, ‘Irish Prisons, Past, Present and Future Challenges’,
Corrections Today,
65 (7) (2003), pp. 98-
99, Richard S. E. Hinde, ‘Sir Walter Crofton and the Reform of the
Irish Convict System, 1854-61-
II’,
The Irish Jurist 
, 12(2) (1977), pp. 295-
303, Martin McElroy, ‘Crofton, Sir 
Walter, Frederick (1815-97)
’, Dictionary of 
 
2
Ireland in the 1850s and 1860s.
4
It will be argued, as suggested in the opening quotation, thatthe relevant power-relations were complex and multifaceted. It will be seen that this system,like many before it,
was ‘individualizing’, it targeted the mind of 
each prisoner and attemptedto change their moral values.
5
Indeed it will be argued that individualization extended todeterrence as the idea of punishing prisoners to discourage potential criminals received lessattention.
6
Nevertheless, it will be seen that the system aimed to influence society in otherways. Prison administrators had to respond to public anxiety and the system was designed todemonstrate that it was successfully reforming offenders. The essay will begin by examiningthe
system’s
different stages to show it tried to make offenders adopt a new moral code. Itwill then examine the
system’s ‘
social aims
to reveal the complex and ambiguous powerrelationships that existed in Irish society at least with regard to this policy area. Differenttheories of power will be considered in order to examine relevant power-relations. The focuswill be on Ireland in the 1850s and 1860s as this includes the period when the system was atits height.
7
 The Crofton system was partly a response to the closing of most colonies to transportedoffenders, creating the problem o
f what to ‘do’ with
criminals, and partly a response to thebad reputation
transporte
es’ had
gained in the colonies which reignited interest in the
4
 
See for example, Richard S. E. Hinde, ‘Sir Walter Crofton and the Reform of the Irish Convict System, 1854
-61-
I’,
The Irish Jurist 
, 12(1) (1977), pp. 134-
147, Richard S. E. Hinde, ‘Sir Walter Crofton and the Reform of 
the Irish Convict System, 1854-61-
II’, pp. 320
-336
, Elizabeth Eileen Dooley, ‘Sir Walter Crofton and the IrishIntermediate System of Prison Discipline’,
 New England Journal on Prison Law,
7 (1981), pp. 72-96, Thomas
Krause, ‘The influence of Sir Walter Crofton’s ‘Irish System’ on prison reform in Germany’, pp. 234
-245, Seán
Aylward and Jim Mitchell, ‘Irish Prisons, Past, Present and Future Challenges’
, pp. 98-99, Carroll-Burke madeuse of some theories of power when analysing it but his focus was broader than power-relations under theCrofton System, Patrick Carroll-Burke,
Colonial Discipline, The Making of the Irish Convict System
(Dublinand Portland, Oregon, 2000), pp. 11-20, p. 100, pp. 179-190.
5
Henry Heaney, ‘Ireland’s Penitentiary 1820
-
1831: An Experiment that Failed’,
Studia Hibernica,
14 (1974),pp. 28-29, pp. 36-
39, ‘Report on the Gaols of the City of Dublin’
,
Poor Inquiry Ireland Appendix C Part II 
 (London, 1836), pp. 3b-
5b, U.R.Q. Henriques, ‘The Rise and Decline of the Separate System of PrisonDiscipline’,
Past & Present 
, 54 (1972), pp. 64-66, pp. 68-70, Michel Foucault,
 Discipline and Punish, The Birthof the Prison
translation Alan Sheridan (London, 1979, First French Edition 1975), p. 16.
6
 
U.R.Q. Henriques, ‘The Rise and Decline of the Separate System’
, pp. 63-64,
Richard S. E. Hinde, ‘Sir Walte
Crofton and the Reform of the Irish Convict System, 1854-61-
I’,
p. 118.
 
7
 
Tim Carey,
 Mountjoy
, pp. 116-117, p. 125,
Sixteenth Annual Report of the Directors of Convict Prisons for  Ireland, for the year ended 31
st 
December 1869; with Appendix
(Dublin, 1870), p. 7.
 
 
3
reformation of offenders.
8
Although Crofton thought it applicable to all prisoners, the systemwas established to deal with
‘convicts
.
’ In this context ‘convict’
referred to those sentenced to
‘penal servitude’, a type of prison sentence
used as a substitute for transportation.
9
It differedfrom
the sentence of ‘imprisonment’
as it normally involved a longer time in (often state-run
‘government’ rather than local)
prisons.
10
 Attempts to use prison as an instrument of reformation date from the late Eighteenth Centuryand the Crofton system shared many of the features and aims of earlier projects.
11
In the firststage the prisoner was placed in
‘separate’ confinement i.e.
in a cell on their own and allowedcontact with prison staff but not other prisoners.
12
The aim was that pursued by earlier
8
Tim Carey,
 Mountjoy
, pp. 41-42, pp. 65-
66, Beverly A. Smith, ‘The Female Prisoner in Ireland, 1855
-
1878 ’,
Federal Probation
, 54(4) (1990), p. 74,
Richard S. E. Hinde, ‘Sir Walter Crofton and the Reform of the Irish
Convict System, 1854-61-
I’,
pp. 123-124, Walter Crofton,
The Criminal Classes and their Control. PrisonTreatment and its Principles. Addresses by Sir Walter Crofton, C.B
....(London, 1868), p. 3, Walter Crofton.
Convict Systems and Transportation, A Lecture Delivered at the Philosophical Institution Bristol, on the 22
nd 
  December, 1863, by Sir Walter Crofton, C.B
.....(London and Bristol, 1863), p. 3.
9
 
This included those who had been originally sentenced to transportation whose sentenced were ‘converted’ to
penal servitude and those sentenced to penal servitude because the option to sentence them to transportation nolonger existed, Walter Crofton,
The Criminal Classes
, p. 10, Tim Carey,
 Mountjoy
, pp. 41-42, SeánMcConville,
 A history of English prison administration, Volume I, 1750-1877 
(London, Boston, Massachusetts,and Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, 1981), pp. 381-
387, Rena Lohan, ‘The treatment of Women Sentenced to
Transportation and Penal Servitude, 1790-
1898’, Unpublished M.Litt. Thesis (Trinity College Dublin, 1989)
,pp. 13-14
, National Archives of Ireland (hereafter NAI), Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers,
C
SORP/1858/1244, Circular ‘Dublin Castle July 1857’, letter from Walter Crofton ‘Government Prisons Office,Dublin Castle 19 January 1858.’
10
 
Beverly A. Smith, ‘The Female Prisoner in Ireland’, pp. 70
-74, Tim Carey,
 Mountjoy
, pp. 117-118, it shouldbe noted that not everyone sentenced to penal servitude passed through the Crofton system partly due to a lack of facilities,
 Report of the Board of Superintendence of the City of Dublin Prisons, To the Right Honorable the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Dublin...
(Dublin, 1863), p. 7, pp. 12-13, Rena Lohan,
‘T
he t
reatment of Women’
, pp. 15-16.
11
Tim Carey,
 Mountjoy
, pp. 2-3, pp. 7-8, pp. 24-29, pp. 44-48, p. 66, Seán McConville,
 A history of English prison administration,
pp . 4-5, p. 325, the ideas behind the Crofton system were also influenced by thedevelopment of reformatory schools, something with which Crofton himself was closely involved, LawrenceGoldman,
Science, Reform, and Politics in Victorian Britain, The Social Science Association 1857-1886 
 (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 143-144, p. 146-147, pp. 155-156,
 Reformatory Schools, Return to an Address of the Honourable House of Commons, dated 15 June 1860..
(n.p. , 1860), p. 6,
First Report of the Inspector Invited to Visit the Reformatory Schools of Ireland..
(Dublin, 1862), p. 8, Martin McElroy, ‘Crofton, Sir Walter,Frederick.’
 
12
 
 NAI, Chief Secretary’s Office Official Papers, OP/1869/38, ‘Letter 
from Patrick Murray to the Under
Secretary’ 10 June 1869,
Observations on the Treatment of Convicts in Ireland, With Some Remarks on theSame in England, By Four Visiting Justices of the West Riding Prison at Wakefield 
(London, 1862), pp. 2-4, pp.20-22,
Second Annual Report of the Director of Convict Prisons in Ireland for the Year Ended 31
st 
December 1855; with Appendix
(Dublin, 1856) .p. 36, Tim Carey,
 Mountjoy
, pp. 67-71.

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