chapter  11
18 Pages

On licence

Understanding punishment, recidivism and desistance in penal policy, 1853–1945
WithDavid Cox, Barry Godfrey, Helen Johnston, Joanne Turner

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, British legislators reacted to the perceived growth in a hard core of violent repeat offenders and struggled to find solutions to the problem of recidivism. The concept of dangerousness, and the potential threat posed by those people who appeared to be less affected by civilising processes that appeared to be effective in making Britain a safer place to live, have since been a recurring topic of study for researchers of nineteenth-century society. In an attempt to make the system work effectively, a vast bureaucracy was created which was responsible for the identification and tracking of many thousands of former prisoners and convicts. This served to create a huge range and number of archived written documentary records, many of which can now be utilised by historians to examine the impact of particular forms of legislation on offenders and the length of their criminal careers.