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Penal Station Objectives - Essay Example

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The system of transportation of convicts to Australia is renowned in history for it brutal treatment of the convicts1, although recent research making comparisons of records available have come to question this2. A cluster of penal colonies were created along the coast of New South Wales and Van Diemans's Land, and it is these colonies as a whole which will be the focus of this paper, with regard to the objectives of establishing a penal station, and whether these objectives were met.
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Download file to see previous pages The first penal station was established at Newcastle in 1804 and the convicts were put to labor mining for coal and cutting cedar tree. However, with the settlements of the Hunter Valley with colonists, Newcastle was no longer as isolated as it was when it started. And so Port Macquarie was established, and Newcastle closed in 1824. However, Port Macquarie experienced frequent successful escapes, and following an inspection by Commissioner Bigge it was determined that other colony stations be created, and emphasized the need for these convicts to be separated and isolated from the remaining population. As a consequence the Governor of Brisbane developed a penal station at Moreton Bay in 1825. Norfolk Island was also reoccupied, having been abandoned in 1813. The worst criminals were sent to Norfolk Island, and those guilty of lesser offences were transported to Moreton Bay.
Meanwhile in Van Dieman's Land a penal station was first established in 1822 at Macquarie Harbour, as it was more difficult to escape from. Unfortunately there were issues with access to the Harbour, and so convicts with minor offenses were sent to another penal station established at nearby Maria Island in 1825. Due to escalating cost though, Lieutenant-=Governor Arthur decided to develop another colony, an din 1830 Port Arthur was established on the Tasman's Peninsula, and in the closing of Macquarie Harbor and Maria Island1.
There was a distinct awareness among the governors of the settlements at this time that there was a clear need to portray transportation as an "object of terror," to enable effective and efficient deterrence to future criminal activity in Britain 4,5,6. Subsequently, governors incorporated into their policies, statements that would substantiate the concept of transportation as an act "worse than death". Thus, one of the primary objectives of the penal stations, was to deter others from committing crimes.
Another primary objective was for the convicts to be given constant employment, preferably in hard labor4. This was to enable a rigid form of discipline among the convicts, and to provide supervisors and governors with a way to systematically and in a standardized way to oversee the incarceration of the convicts. By way of isolation from the luxuries that were available to the settlements it was anticipated that the third objective could be met, which was reforming of character. As such, it was expected that a number of the transported convicts would become rehabilitate through isolation1, hard labor and the habit making of discipline, as well as perhaps learning new skills such as agriculture, and so return to society as a contributing member.

1 Reynolds, J (1982) The penal stations of New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land. p. 356
4. Shannon. (1968) J.T.Bigge "Report to the Commissioner of Inquiry' British Parliamentary Papers: Colonies, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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