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England's Policy of Transportation - Essay Example

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The rebellion in the colonies had made it impossible to use them as a penal colony and in 1788 England began to transport mass numbers of these criminals to Australia. This dark period in England's criminal justice history saw the transportation of 160,000 people to the continent (Sheehan, Miller, & Hudzik, n.d.). Many were children, some were elderly, and most had been convicted of only very minor offences. England's Policy of Transportation was a heinous immorality, unjustly perpetrated in an ineffective attempt to control England's lower class and their petty crimes.
The harshness of Britain's reaction to crime is understandable as upper class citizens feared the pickpockets and thieves and demanded action from the government. However, to send any person, not to mention a child, across the sea with no hope of returning strips them of their last remaining possession, their cultural identity. The initial voyage contained 700 convicts whose number included a 9 year old boy convicted of stealing and an 82 year old woman caught lying under oath (Martz, 2000). These hapless passengers were thrown together with a brutal adult population to endure abuse and worse. According to Dunlop (1997),"All prisoners were treated alike, and conditions were harsh; appalling living conditions, disease, hunger, floggings and general neglect were prevalent and many convicts died en route or upon arrival." The severity of these actions were as appalling in the 16th century as they are today.
Though men outnumbered women 6 to 1, women were often the target of criminal convictions in an effort to increase the female population in Australia (Martz, 2000). Innocent women could be convicted, not because of their crime, but because of their gender. Men in the new penal colony demanded wives and the British system was eager to provide them. Providing women to the penal colony was viewed as a method of adding stability to the system and many were forced into prostitution upon landing. Often, they would be taken prisoner by male inmates or sold into sexual slavery (Martz, 2000). The injustice of condemning a woman to a life of slavery for political convenience is seldom rivalled in modern history.
The years of practising a Policy of Transportation did little to impact or reduce Britain's criminal population. The root causes of crime were poverty and a well-defined class structure. The failure to address these problems left the threat of transportation an impotent weapon on the war on crime. Though the horrors of a lifetime of banishment may have deterred some criminals to be less aggressive in their activity, the rising numbers eliminated any possible gain that deterrence might have. The relatively small numbers of violent criminals included in transportation verifies that the policy did little to correct England's crime problem.
Sending women, children, or anyone else to a lifetime of banishment away from all they know is an immoral act when done in response to minor crimes against property. Sentencing them to a lifetime of misery and possible death was an injustice of vast proportions. Transporting women, unfairly convicted for the purpose of creating a class of sexual slaves, was inexcusable even in the context of the times. That it was an ineffective effort resulting from a war against the lower class residents of the slums ...Show more


England's Policy of Transportation, which began in 1718, was based on the ancient biblical tradition of banishment. Originally, England transported small numbers of criminals that had committed serious crimes to the American Colonies. These small numbers were assimilated as slaves into the settler population with little or no effect (Kercher, 2003)…
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Englands Policy of Transportation
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