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Home > Crime and Punishment in Durham > Prison Reform > Prison rules and reform, 1865

 Prison rules and reform, 1865

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Extract from the Regulations for Government of Prisons, 1865. Click to enlarge.

Extract from the Regulations for Government of Prisons, 1865. (DUL ref: L 365.6 HM)


The 1865 Prisons Act combined Gaols and Houses of Corrections into Prisons and set strict rules for their governance. The Assistant Director of Prisons, Sir Edmund du Cane, promised that prisoners would get "Hard Labour, Hard Fare and Hard Board". We are going to look at an extract from the rules (an enlarged version and transcript are available)for Durham prison to see how they were affected by the work of the prison reformers.

1. What are the rules governing the employment of debtors?

2. What are criminal prisoners awaiting trial allowed to do?

3. How many hours of hard labour are prisoners of the first class allowed to do each day?

4. Do you think that hard labour and employment are the same?

5. Would Fry and Gurney approve of these new rules governing the work of prisoners? Give reasons for your answer.

6. Do you think that prisoners in 1865 were treated better or worse than prisoners in 1819? What does this tell us about the work of the prison reformers?

Now use a plan of Durham prison to see if the work of the reformers had an influence.

Find out more about the design of Durham prisonGo back to the section on the Rules of 1819


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