"Woman manacled before giving birth" and "Battery hen cells being built for women" are only two of the various horror stories about everyday life in British prisons which have recently hit the headlines. Hardly a week seems to go by without new revelations about dire conditions in prisons both here and across the Atlantic.
Until 1975 those who wanted to study the history of English prisons turned to the standard work on the subject which was first published in 1922, English Prisons Under Local Government, by the two pioneers of the history of English Social Policy Sidney and Beatrice Webb.(1) This carefully researched account emphasised the evolution of the
This is an ambitious and weighty study of prisons, prison labour and penology from the early Republican period through the Depression years which McLennan argues has been characterised by ‘a long continuum of episodic instability, conflict, and political crisis’ (p. 2).
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey have only been available to historians online since 2003 but, speaking as someone who probably visits the site two or three times a week, I am bound to wonder at how we all managed before then.
Prisons are never far from the headlines at the present time in the UK. As I write, a new Prisons and Courts Bill is being hailed as ‘a historical shift in thinking about the purpose of prisons’, on the grounds that it sets out rehabilitation as a specific, statutory goal.
Sarah Badcock has made a name for herself as, alongside the likes of Aaron Retish, one seeking to spread and deepen our understanding of the Russian Revolution in hitherto under- or little-explored regions – both geographical (the Volga provinces) and social (the peasantry of European Russia’s periphery).(1) She has now moved both eastwards and backwards to explore the