How was the Gaol run?

By the time the Melbourne Gaol was built ideas about how criminals should be punished were changing. Traditionally people had not been imprisoned for long sentences. In Australia serious offenders were hanged or sent to penal establishments like Port Arthur. But new gaols were now being built around the world, reflecting new attitudes.

- So what did the new gaols look like and how were inmates treated?
- How was this different to Australia's earlier convict history?
- And why was prison now considered a way of preventing crime?

Scroll through the narrative galleries below to explore how the Melbourne Gaol represented nineteenth century ideas of using punishment as a way of reforming prisoners.  Hover your mouse over an image to reveal further information.

Things to think about

  • Extrapolate on the interrelationship between a ‘criminal class’ and the development of purpose-built Pentonville-style gaols.
  • Reflect on the impact of the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution in the establishment of the Victorian-era prison system.
  • What conclusions can be drawn by comparing 19th century rates of recidivism with present day figures for Victorian prisons?