First published in 1922, in this volume Sydney and Beatrice Webb give a detailed account of the evolution of the English Prison System from the common gaol and the house of correction of the sixteenth century down to the statutory changes of the twentieth century, and survey the successive efforts at reform of John Howard and Elizabeth Fry, Jeremy Bentham and James Neild, Sir T. Fowell Buxton and J.J. Gurney. The origin and development of the cellular system, the treadwheel and the crank, the penal dietary and the "system of progressive stages" all come under review, together with the administrative changes made by Sir Edmund Du Cane and Sir Evelyn Ruggles, and the reforms during the first part of this century.
In his original preface, Bernard Shaw makes a penetrating analysis of the whole theory of punishment and the incarceration of our fellow-citizens, maintaining that "Imprisonment as it exists today … is a worse crime than any of those committed by its victims; for no single criminal can be as powerful for evil, or as unrestrained in its exercise, as an organized nation".
Professor Radzinowicz in a masterly new introduction surveys the development of the prison system in this century and concludes by saying of ‘English Prisons under Local Government’ that "No one can claim to understand English penology today without having read and reflected upon this book, for it imparts not only knowledge but perspective."
Table of Contents
1. The Maintenance of Prisons in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries. 2. The State of the Prisons, 1700-773. 3. John Howard. 4. Parliamentary Action, 1774-1791. 5. National Prisons (the Hulks and Millbank). 6. Prison Administration from 1774-1816. 7. The Renewal of Parliamentary Activity, 1811-1823. 8. Rival Policies in Prison Administration. 9. Central Supervision and Control: First Period, 1835-1864. 10. Penal Servitude. 11. Central Supervision and Control: Second Period, 1865-1877. 12. The Act of 1877, and the Du Cane Regime.
Sidney Webb, Beatrice Webb