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Managing Convicts, Understanding Criminals: Medicine and the Development of English Convict Prisons, c.1837-1886

Sellers, Laura Mary (2017) Managing Convicts, Understanding Criminals: Medicine and the Development of English Convict Prisons, c.1837-1886. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Laura Mary Sellers Final Thesis 2017.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
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Abstract

This thesis argues that the creation and development of the English convict prison system during the nineteenth century depended to a significant extent on the medical men who were employed there. It focuses on the practical work-lives and research of prison medical officers in five Victorian government-run convict prisons. The structure is both chronological and thematic: each chapter focuses on a specific convict prison and on particular concerns of prison medical officers and administration at a time when new challenges arose. The thesis demonstrates that prison medical officers changed the architecture, management, and philosophy that shaped the developing prison system, in what was an experimental era for prisons. At the start of the nineteenth century England had a medley of regional systems, different types of prisons and inconsistent punishments; by the end, a more uniform, organised, national system had been formed through experiment and policy change. Prison medical officers played a vital part in this transformation, and they thereby shaped the British understanding of “the criminal” in the decades before the advent of criminology. The intention to build a uniform system had to be rethought because of physical and mental health diagnoses made by the medical staff. The separation and categorisation of people within, based on medical concerns, shaped both convict prisons and the British understanding of “the criminal”. The thesis also argues that studying medicine in prisons illuminates the history of medicine, giving a new insight into how this group of medical men came to do important work in epidemiology, nutrition, psychiatry, neurology and public health.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: prison, medicine, psychiatry, science, victorian
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Depositing User: Dr Laura Mary Sellers
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 12:57
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 12:57
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19344

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