PUBLIC TALK: PRISON versus WESTERN AUSTRALIA
A public lecture by Barry Godfrey, Professor of Social Justice, University of Liverpool and Russell Ward Visiting Professor, University of New England and 2019 UWA Fred Alexander Fellow.
Which worked best, the system of convict transportation or the British home convict service? Between 1850 and 1868 a natural experiment in punishment took place when men convicted of similar crimes could either serve their sentence of penal servitude in Britain or in Western Australia. For historians and social scientists, this offers the prospect of addressing a key question posed over two-hundred years ago by the philosopher, penal theorist, and reformer Jeremy Bentham, when he authored a lengthy letter entitled ‘PANOPTICON versus NEW SOUTH WALES’. Bentham, and subsequent generations of historians did not have the data to answer this question, but now we do. This lecture asks whether British convicts or Australian convicts had higher rates of reconviction; and how both Big Data and biographical research can help us to answer this question.
Barry Godfrey is the 2019 UWA Fred Alexander Fellow. The Fred Alexander Fellowship is dedicated to the memory of Professor Fred Alexander (1899-1996), the founding Head of the History Discipline (then Department) at The University of Western Australia.
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