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Australian Colonial Settlement

What work did male convicts do?

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August 15, 2009 6:41AM

Depends on when you are talking about. I'm from England, where they can be notoriously cruel bastards, which is why I escaped, but up until as late as the 1960s men who were "hard" cases and done serious crimes (serious crimes usually involve poor people stealing from the wealthy, did you notice that?) like bank robbery or train robbery or most everything short of murder for which they were (rightly so in my opinion) hanged in pretty short order without the 10 years on death row crap we get here in the US.

Anyway, these "hard" cases were sentenced to many years at "hard labour" which essentially meant that they were put into a particularly miserable prison with a huge rock pile and they spent most of every waking hour smashing rocks with a big hammer. When they were all smashed, they bought in another truckload of rocks. I suppose the smashed rocks became gravel for the driveways of the wealthy so they could hear the tires on their Jaguar crunch nicely as they reflected on how cleverly they had managed to steal another million pounds or dollars or francs or rubles or yen with some creative "standard accounting practices."

I understand work in prison today is at least more productive. Yes, they punch out license plates, but there are many lifers who would probably smash your face clean through the back of your head for less than nothing who make beautiful wooden toys or ships that are sold and the money returned to buy more supplies in an economy that doesn't allocate much money for mahogany for prison workshops. Their is a store in Maine that sells such items, and quite beautiful and expensive some of them are, and I believe a good slice of that actually goes to local charities.