21 September 2012

Ruthin Gaol

Ruthin's first House of Correction was built in 1654, and would have incarcerated felons and the unemployed alike. The gaol was rebuilt in 1775 following the prison investigations of John Howard (as in the Howard League for Penal Reform), and by 1837 could hold 37 inmates. Following the Prisons Act 1865, a new wing on the Pentonville model was built to form, in 1878, HM Prison Ruthin.

The four-storey wing housed 100 prisoners. The gaol closed in 1916, when the prisoners were moved to HM Prison Shrewsbury, a scaled-up version of Ruthin, and still in use. Both look and feel much like HM Prison Slade, of television's Porridge. Our desire to seek to drive behaviour through punishment, despite all that we know about how only reward operates effectively to do so, seemingly remains as strong as in the seventeenth century.

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