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After the Clink – Prison Reform
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By the end of the 18th century prison was coming to be seen as place to correct the prisoner, rather/than merely avenge the crime. Since it was now the soul rather than the body that was to be punished, prisoners’ welfare came to be seen as more important than their discomfort. Gaol Fees were abolished in 1815 and food began to be provided. With the Debtors’ Act of 1869 imprisonment for debt was finally abolished. The two worst causes of misery in the old Clink were finally banished from British prisons.


After the Clink – Prison Reform

“Punishment is not for revenge, but to lessen crime and reform the criminal” – Elizabeth Fry, 1818



The Quaker philanthropist Elizabeth Fry was horrified when she visited Newgate Prison in 1812. The women's section was overcrowded; women washing and cooking for themselves and their children in the small cells, where they slept on straw. Over years of tireless campaigning, Elizabeth Fry established a prison school and began a system of supervision, requiring the women to sew and read the Bible. In 1817 she helped found the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate. Her work was the foundation of British prison reform.


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