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Extra info for Inter-war Penal Policy and Crime in England: The Dartmoor Convict Prison Riot, 1932

Sample text

Since the late nineteenth century sentence lengths given by the courts had been shortening. 60 Prisoners who returned to and remained in Hall B with officers and had their names listed on the roll were the most straightforward to designate as ‘loyal’ prisoners. 61 The term ‘loyal’ was interpreted as submissive, even emasculating, by John Jackson, who defended himself at the trial and was therefore the most direct and loudest voice among the defendants: I do not claim to be a nice boy, a good prisoner – I do claim to be a man, and I should fear that it would be thrown in my face that I was a loyal prisoner – loyal to my thin porridge and plank bed.

In his evidence to the Du Parcq inquiry, Major Morris, Governor of the prison until March 1931 and Deputy Governor between 1923 and 1926, observed that Dartmoor was ‘entirely different from other places’: There is the isolation of this place, and the great depression of the fog, and that forms some peculiar sense of comradeship between the Officers and prisoners. There has been fraternising with the wrong type of offender. The best type of Officer knows exactly where to stop, and he is the Officer who is respected by the convict .

In his evidence to the Du Parcq inquiry, Prison Officer, Rowland Kelly, stated that two prisoners on his parade ground ran to join other rioters shouting: ‘Come on boys, they are fucking men. 63 John Jackson was articulate in his criticism of several aspects of the Dartmoor regime: The Dartmoor Convict Prison Riot, 1932 23 When we are sentenced to penal servitude, the object – the rightful object – is to segregate us from our fellow men. We were not sentenced to be deliberately badgered into insanity and killed with bad food; and when I say bad food I do not mean distasteful food, I mean food unfit for human consumption, in many cases.

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