Gaols Act 1823

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The Gaols Act 1823 (4 Geo IV c 64) was an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament to reform prisons.


The idea of prison reform was promoted in the early 19th century by Elizabeth Fry and her brother Joseph John Gurney. In particular, Fry was appalled at the conditions in the women's section of Newgate Prison. This act was introduced and supported by Home Secretary Robert Peel.[1] It introduced regular visits to prisoners by chaplains; provided for the payment of gaolers, who had previously been paid out of fees that the prisoners themselves were required to pay; stated that female and male prisoners should be kept separated[2] as well as requiring the installation of female wardens to guard female prisoners; and prohibited the use of irons and manacles.[3] It also lifted the death penalty from 130 crimes.[1]

The act was largely ineffective, because there were no inspectors to make sure that it was being followed. The Prisons Act 1835 offered a remedy by providing for the appointment of five paid prison inspectors.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Crime and Punishment: Elizabeth Fry". Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Methods of punishment". BBC Bitesize. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ Hubbard, Ben (2015). Stories of Women During the Industrial Revolution: Changing Roles, Changing Lives. Capstone. p. 16. ISBN 9781484624449.
  4. ^ Evans, R. Paul; Wilkinson, Alf (2018). WJEC GCSE History Changes in Health and Medicine c.1340 to the present day and Changes in Crime and Punishment, c.1500 to the present day. Hodder Education. p. 418. ISBN 9781510401921.