Maconochies Gentlemen: The Story of Norfolk Island and the Roots of Modern Prison Reform

Paperback | August 9, 2004

byNorval Morris

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In 1840, Alexander Maconochie, a privileged retired naval captain, became at his own request superintendent of two thousand twice-convicted prisoners on Norfolk Island, a thousand miles off the coast of Australia. In four years, Maconochie transformed what was one of the most brutal convictsettlements in history into a controlled, stable, and productive environment that achieved such success that upon release his prisoners came to be called "Maconochie's Gentlemen". Here Norval Morris, one of our most renowned criminologists, offers a highly inventive and engaging account of this early pioneer in penal reform, enhancing Maconochie's life story with a trenchant policy twist. Maconochie's life and efforts on Norfolk Island, Morris shows, provide a modelwith profound relevance to the running of correctional institutions today. Using a unique combination of fictionalized history and critical commentary, Morris gives this work a powerful policy impact lacking in most standard academic accounts. In an era of "mass incarceration" that rivals that of the settlement of Australia, Morris injects the question of humane treatment back into the debate over prison reform. Maconochie and his "Marks system" played an influential role in the development of prisons; but for the last thirty yearsprison reform has been dominated by punitive and retributive sentiments, the conventional wisdom holding that we need 'supermax' prisons to control the 'worst of the worst' in solitary and harsh conditions. Norval Morris argues to the contrary, holding up the example of Alexander Maconochie as aclear-cut alternative to the "living hell" of prison systems today.

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In 1840, Alexander Maconochie, a privileged retired naval captain, became at his own request superintendent of two thousand twice-convicted prisoners on Norfolk Island, a thousand miles off the coast of Australia. In four years, Maconochie transformed what was one of the most brutal convictsettlements in history into a controlled, stab...

Norval Morris is Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Criminology at the University of Chicago. He is the editor of The Oxford History of the Prison and the author of The Brothel Boy and Other Parables of the Law. In 2000, he received both the American Society of Criminology's Edwin E. Sutherland Award and the National Council of Crime...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 5.51 × 8.19 × 0.71 inPublished:August 9, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195169123

ISBN - 13:9780195169126

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"Morris blends fact with fiction o provide us with a compelling story-- seen through the eyes of Maconochie, members of his family, assigned personnel, and convicts-- of the conditions on this penal colony and his efforts to develop a rational and humane system of rewards and punishment...Maconochie's Gentlemen is an interesting and thought provoking book on correctional policy and practice, in which the lessons are drawn from a historical perspective. Norval Morris has made yet another significant contribution to correctional scholarship."--Crime and Justice International