The News has recently published an interesting, if short, article reporting on days gone by. On the passing of the prison hulks that used to lie out in Portsmouth Harbour. Similar to HMS Victory these were ships that had seen better days. Ships such as HMS Briton, HMS Defense, HMS Leviathan, HMS Racoon and HMS Stirling Castle served as hulks until around 1850 when the practice of prison hulk usage stopped. Those prisoners being held on hulks in Portsmouth Harbour were moved to a prison within the walls of Portsmouth Dockyard.
It seems that prisoners held in the dockyard prison were once used for “public works”. The news mentions that when this practice ceased the prison was closed.
A prison was built within the dockyard walls in the north-eastern corner. By 1895 the convicts were no longer used for public works and in 1896 the prison, capable of holding 1,500 men, was closed for good.
It’s a shame that our governments haven’t seen fit to reinstate the practice of using prison inmates for carrying our public works as referenced here.
We, the tax payer, are already paying for their clothing, accommodation, entertainment, healthcare and three square meals a day. It seems only fair that prison inmates repay their debt to society by doing some work.
The namby pamby do-gooders in our society will say that they are being punished by having their liberty taken away. That may well be true. We keep hearing that prisoners don’t like their conditions, that some of them spend most of their time in a cell. Well here is a way to get them out and have them doing something for society. I’m not talking about hard labour, breaking up rocks or such like. We have a workforce locked up twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We should use them. Set them to work getting rid of graffiti, clearing out silted up canals, picking up rubbish on our beaches. How about all these potholes in our roads, created by the last severe winter and, more recently, flooding. The local councils say they are overwhelmed and don’t have the money.
Well here is the workforce, provide the tools and materials and set them to work.