'Terror to Evil-Doers'

'Terror to Evil-Doers': Prisons and Punishments in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

PETER OLIVER
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 632
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442664791
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  • Book Info
    'Terror to Evil-Doers'
    Book Description:

    The history of the foundations of modern carceral institutions in Ontario. Drawing on a wide range of previously unexplored primary material, Oliver provides a narrative and interpretative account of the penal system in 19th-century Ontario.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6479-1
    Subjects: Law, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Foreword THE OSGOODE SOCIETY FOR CANADIAN LEGAL HISTORY
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    R. Roy McMurtry and Martin Friedland

    The purpose of The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History is to encourage research and writing in the history of Canadian law. The Society, which was incorporated in 1979 and is registered as a charity, was founded at the initiative of the Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, former attorney general for Ontario and now Chief Justice, and officials of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Its efforts to stimulate the study of legal history in Canada include a research support program, a graduate student research assistance program, and work in the fields of oral history and legal archives. The Society publishes...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxvi)

    This book uses a range of primary sources to offer a narrative and interpretative account of the history of prisons and punishments in nineteenth-century Ontario. Because of its wide scope, both chronologically and topically,‘Terror to Evil-Doers’is intended to provide a general perspective and to suggest several initial lines of interpretation. Throughout, its focus is on the institutions themselves: gaols, the penitentiary, and two intermediate prisons.

    For practical reasons, the punishment of juveniles is considered only tangentially, and the establishment and administration of separate prisons for juveniles is excluded. Because there is so little literature on these subjects, and...

  7. MAP
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  8. Part I: Colonial Origins
    • 1 Upper Canadian Punishments
      (pp. 3-42)

      At its origins in 1791 and for the first four decades of its existence, Upper Canada, as a British colony and an old-regime society, punished crime by means of a traditional mix of punishments. These included the so-called shaming punishments, whipping and the pillory; fines for minor transgressors; banishment and transportation; imprisonment; and finally, execution, which was generally restricted to those convicted of high treason or murder. Although the unreformed English criminal law was in effect at the colony’s establishment, that law, the notorious ‘bloody code,’ with its more than two hundred capital offences, was ill-suited for a North American...

    • 2 The Gaol and the Community
      (pp. 43-85)

      Upper Canadian gaols were not used solely to house convicted criminals. Many of the inmates were harmless citizens confined because they were old, sick, poor, or in debt. Imprisonment emerged in the late 1820s and the 1830s as the colony’s principal secondary punishment, but the goals also became increasingly important as congregate facilities serving a wide array of social needs. The districts had been slow to take advantage of the 1810 statute designating gaols as houses of correction. With a burgeoning population and the spread of social problems, it was less feasible and more expensive to provide assistance for the...

    • 3 ‘Order Is Heaven’s First Law’: The Tory Origins of Upper Canada’s Penitentiary
      (pp. 86-136)

      In June 1835 the Upper Canadian penitentiary at Portsmouth, about a mile west of Kingston, received its first prisoners. In establishing a penitentiary, the citizens of the small and predominantly rural colony were following the example of the mother country and of many other nations, including the United States, whose famous penitentiary at Auburn, New York, provided the immediate inspiration for the Upper Canadian initiative. Few Upper Canadians can have suspected that the institution they were creating would dominate their criminal justice system for a century and more. Indeed, those who lived in the Kingston area seem to have paid...

  9. Part II: In the Penitentiary
    • 4 ‘The Reformation of Convicts Is Unknown’: The Penitentiary under Henry Smith, 1834–1848
      (pp. 139-193)

      ‘The Reformation of Convicts is unknown.’ So in 1849 pronounced the famousCommission Appointed to Inquire into the Conduct, Discipline and Management of the Provincial Penitentiary.Popularly known as the Brown Commission, after George Brown, the Toronto publisher and rising politician who was commission secretary and dominated its work, this organization conducted a massive and sensational investigation and delivered a searing indictment of early Canadian penitentiary administration. In words no doubt penned by Brown himself, the commissioners stated their findings forcefully: ‘We have found the Warden guilty on all the charges preferred against him; and the case is so fully...

    • 5 New Beginnings: The Penitentiary in the 1850s
      (pp. 194-230)

      The penitentiary in the 1850s was shaped largely by the work of the Brown Commission and by the 1851 statute that embodied many of its recommendations. The resulting changes in penitentiary governance, essentially conservative in nature, were nonetheless significant. Taken together, they promised to propel the Canadian penitentiary in some genuinely new directions. It is testimony to the intractability of the problems of penitentiary management that they failed to lead to a more progressive era in Canadian penology.

      It was with ‘sincere pleasure,’ the Brown commissioners asserted, that they turned from the investigatory tasks that dominated their first report ‘to...

    • 6 ‘Moral Monsters,’ Refractory Females, Children, and Workers
      (pp. 231-256)

      Much of what is interesting about the penitentiary in the 1850s relates to specific problems and particular groups of inmates, especially women and the insane. These groups suffered disproportionately, the mentally ill most of all. For this element, practice and policy were in a state of flux, as different interests and approaches competed for primacy. The result caused considerable disruption of prison routine but the principal victims were the deranged themselves, who suffered and died in large numbers while officials, politicians, and doctors debated their place in the penitentiary.

      The Brown inquiry had discussed at some length the treatment received...

    • 7 Disciplinary Advances
      (pp. 257-280)

      If the imperatives of labour and security dominated the penitentiary’s daily routines during the era of the dual inspectorate, there were nonetheless a few hopeful developments. With much good feeling and an essentially humanitarian outlook, Nelson and Dickson managed to nibble at the edges of the disciplinary monolith established by Macaulay and his colleagues and reinforced by Brown and the commissioners. Internationally, this was an era of innovation. Joshua Jebb did his best to humanize prison life in Britain, working with great devotion to ensure that prisoners received adequate food and medical treatment, and that British prisons were built with...

    • 8 Institutional Rigidities and Punitive Policies: The Penitentiary’s Enduring Reality
      (pp. 281-316)

      Just as the 1850s began with a new statute and the prospect of genuine reform, so the 1860s held out an excellent opportunity for progressive change in the penitentiary. This time the impetus came not from a scandal succeeded by legislation, nor from sources inside the institution, but from forceful leadership within the Canadian bureaucracy. Although new statutory provisions passed in 1857 for penitentiary governance provided the framework for change, the forward thrust came from the astute, determined leadership of E.A. Meredith, secretary and later chair of the newly created Board of Inspectors of Prisons, Asylums and Public Charities, assisted...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
  10. Part III: Alternative Sanctions and Reform Initiatives
    • 9 ‘The Government Boarding House’: Upper Canada’s Gaols in the Age of Progress
      (pp. 319-354)

      The Union of the Canadas in 1841 was a point of departure in colonial development. The next quarter of a century saw unprecedented progress and social growth. It was marked by great population expansion, economic diversification, and social change. In his definitive survey of the J.M.S. Careless described the Union years as characterized most of all by the emergence of the institutions that would play central roles in the development of modern Canada, including responsible government and a reformed structure of moderate political parties, new systems of state schooling and welfare administration, and the construction of transportation networks, especially the...

    • 10 The Persistence of Community: Ontario’s Gaols in the Industrial Era
      (pp. 355-398)

      Between Confederation and century-end, Ontario experienced its first industrial revolution. In that same period Ontario’s gaols were caught uncertainly between the old and the new, as they struggled to adapt to the demands of the emerging industrial age. The gaols, as we have seen, had in some respects been left behind in the modernization and institutional growth that embodied the social dynamic of the 1840s and 1850s. While state formation, bureaucratization, and the emergence of large institutional structures focused provincial attention on the penitentiary and the asylum, the gaol during the Union years retained the communitarian characteristics that had shaped...

    • 11 Terrorizing the Underclass: The Intermediate Prisons
      (pp. 399-463)

      The 1860s and 1870s were a period of mixed portents for penal development. In England, the moral panic known as the garrotting crisis combined with growing disillusionment with what was regarded as the naive policies of Joshua Jebb led to an era of repression. In Ireland, the progressive-stage system implemented by Sir Walter Crofton achieved international acclaim. Croftonianism was a major breakthrough, and left the old verities of the Auburn–Philadelphia systems in an intellectual backwater. But it possessed as well a narrowly punitive side which placed impossible demands on all convicts and punished severely those who did not measure...

    • 12 Aftercare and the Ambiguities of Reform
      (pp. 464-499)

      The Prisoners’ Aid Association of Canada (PAA) carried out a range of centred in Toronto between 1874 and 1915. Controlled by a group of wealthy and socially prominent Torontonians, the Association appears as almost a prototype of the comparable bodies which proliferated this period in many North American and European communities whose efforts seemed to be directed at the control and modification of and criminal behaviour on the part of the less privileged and lower class members of society. Studying the relationship between PAA and prisoners in Ontario’s gaols and prisons sheds considerable light on social and class relationships and...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 500-506)

    Prisons and gaols had always existed, but mostly for purposes of detention before trial. In Ontario, the major transition from an old regime system of shaming punishments to one that relied overwhelmingly on imprisonment culminated in the 1830s. Although the opening of Kingston Penitentiary has always symbolized that shift, the change began a earlier, with the increasing number of gaol sentences handed Assize judges. In fact, it was imprisonment itself and not any form of restraint which marked the change, and the continuing role of the local gaols assumes a large interpretive significance in helping to explain the incomplete nature...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 507-562)
  13. Index
    (pp. 563-575)
  14. PUBLICATIONS OF THE OSGOODE SOCIETY FOR CANADIAN LEGAL HISTORY
    (pp. 576-577)