By Professor Helen Johnston and Dr Jo Turner

The Victorian period has often been depicted as one where people with disabilities were viewed as a burden to their families and their communities, and social policies aimed at helping these individuals were virtually nonexistent.

In fact, a fundamental response to people with either physical or cognitive impairments was to either ignore them or lock them up in asylums or workhouses.

But many people with disabilities were incarcerated in the convict prison system during this period. So what was prison like for these individuals? And how did the authorities respond to and deal with members from these often marginalised groups?

Using case studies of prisoners with physical disabilities, Prof Helen Johnston and Dr Jo Turner try to uncover the hidden experiences of a life of penal servitude, providing a glimpse of what is was like to be both disabled and a convict during the nineteenth century.

The article is published in the Prison Service Journal.


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@Dan_Johnson19 @LincolnCastle @interwarcrime @ourcriminalpast At Gloucester Prison, day rooms originally for prisoners awaiting trial or those serving short terms in gaol - only convicts separated day and night. Later overcrowding meant convicts sometimes put together to work.

I’ve just written about the HMP Wandsworth quilt for my book, which is exhibited at the V&A museum and was created by inmates of the prison. The quilt draws on the architectural layout of the prison, which reflects Bentham’s panopticon design
https://t.co/H3MyFRjsMu

Last call today to register to catch @YvonneJewkes, Zoe Alker (Liverpool U), @LindaMulcahy7, @RhiannonPickin, @AndrewMillie, and Gonçalo Goncalves (Rio) this Friday, talking about criminal justice history and the built environment:

https://t.co/4JJFYtRZ8Y

Did you know… we have a team of documentation assistants who research and record our stuff (like paintings, objects, sculptures…) onto the museum database?

To find out more about this #MuseumJob , take a look at this post: https://t.co/wv8JNYr9Un #SecretsMW

Here's a #SecretsMW for #MuseumWeek, under this trapdoor is 'The Hold' where debtors would be placed rather than in the normal prison cells. Bit awkward to get into (and escape from...) so normally safely locked up, we wouldn't want to lose any visitors down there!

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Government plan to follow Scotland on scrapping shorter jail sentences may not be the fix UK prisons need https://t.co/slKKMFwfwI

The next Leeds Historical Criminology even on the 19th June, has the fabulous @francescrook @lizzieseal and Vivien Miller (Nottingham) talking about the historical (and more recent) evolution of the death penalty. All welcome, please RT:
https://t.co/0KN2xrIZYp

Just heading across Humber! Off to visit Great Grimsby Family History Society to talk about Our Criminal Ancestors, Town Hall 7:30pm

The next Leeds Historical Criminology even on the 19th June, has the fabulous @francescrook @lizzieseal and Vivien Miller (Nottingham) talking about the historical (and more recent) evolution of the death penalty. All welcome, please RT:
https://t.co/0KN2xrIZYp