English Local Prisons, 1860-1900: Next Only to Death (Routledge 1995)
By Seán McConville
The local prisons of the latter half of the nineteenth century refined systems of punishment so harsh that one judge considered the maximum penalty of two years local imprisonment to be the most severe punishment known to English law: "next only to death". This work examines how private perceptions and concerns became public policy. It also traces the move in English government from the rural and aristocratic to the urban and more democratic. It follows the rise of the powerful elite of the higher civil service, describes some of the forces that attempted to oppose it, and provides a window through which to view the process of state formation.