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Maconochie's Gentlemen: The Story of Norfolk Island and the Roots of Modern Prison Reform (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)
 
 

Maconochie's Gentlemen: The Story of Norfolk Island and the Roots of Modern Prison Reform (Studies in Crime and Public Policy) [Kindle Edition]

Norval Morris

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Review


"If Maconochie's methods worked under such extreme conditions, wouldn't they work today in our supposedly enlightened times? Highly recommended for crime collections in public and academic libraries."--Library Journal (starred review)
"Captain Maconochie's Gentlemen displays Norval Morris's large gifts as a fine narrative writer and a pre-eminent social scientist. This is a book that fits Aristotle's directive that fine art should enlighten and entertain. It is, in the first instance, an illuminating story, told through the eyes of Captain Maconochie and the family and colleagues he brought with him to Norfolk Island in 1840, of Western society's first efforts at penal rehabilitation. The fiction is followed by incisive reflections by Morris in his role as one of America's leading criminologists, relating Maconochie's experiment to the circumstances today. The book is engrossing in both modes and is thoughtful, moving, and revealing at all points. My hat is off to Norval Morris.

Product Description

In 1840, Alexander Maconochie, a privileged retired naval captain, became at his own request superintendent of two thousand twice-convicted prisoners on Norfolk Island, a thousand miles off the coast of Australia. In four years, Maconochie transformed what was one of the most brutal convict settlements in history into a controlled, stable, and productive environment that achieved such success that upon release his prisoners came to be called "Maconochie's Gentlemen".
Here Norval Morris, one of our most renowned criminologists, offers a highly inventive and engaging account of this early pioneer in penal reform, enhancing Maconochie's life story with a trenchant policy twist. Maconochie's life and efforts on Norfolk Island, Morris shows, provide a model with profound relevance to the running of correctional institutions today. Using a unique combination of fictionalized history and critical commentary, Morris gives this work a powerful policy impact lacking in most standard academic accounts.
In an era of "mass incarceration" that rivals that of the settlement of Australia, Morris injects the question of humane treatment back into the debate over prison reform. Maconochie and his "Marks system" played an influential role in the development of prisons; but for the last thirty years prison reform has been dominated by punitive and retributive sentiments, the conventional wisdom holding that we need 'supermax' prisons to control the 'worst of the worst' in solitary and harsh conditions. Norval Morris argues to the contrary, holding up the example of Alexander Maconochie as a clear-cut alternative to the "living hell" of prison systems today.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2272 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (1 Nov 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000R6WJI8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,281,312 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NORVAL MORRIS: THE MODERN DAY JOHN HOWARD 26 Feb 2004
By Jesse L. Maghan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
NORVAL MORRIS
THE MODERN DAY JOHN HOWARD
[The power of political leadership in pursuit of popular support by relentless and unscrupulous means has surely and frequently been demonstrated....a public misled by false statistics, sensational and selective sound bites, and political leaders seeking votes is plain to see....Consequently, a prison regime defines the razor edge between power and freedom, authority and autonomy. NM]
In this compelling "roman a clef" entitled: "Maconochie's Gentlemen: The Story of Norfolk Island and the Roots of Modern Prison Reform," the humanism and the incisive intellect of Norval Morris are beautifully revealed. Published in 2002, the novel gives a vivid portrayal of Alexander Maconochie's heroic achievement of creating a "token economy" for rewarding positive behavior through a convict "Marks System" in the penal colony at Norfolk Island, a thousand miles off the coast of Australia, 1840-44. Moreover, it shares a passionate belief that a virtuous prison is possible in the process of maintaining humane and safe prisons. This belief epitomizes the life and work of Norval Morris.
Why would anyone devote himself to penal reform? If there is a viable alternative, why choose to suffer the chill breath of adverse public opinion, the bemused stares of neighbors, the frustrations and lack of reward? It is a vexing question; a satisfying answer is not easily come by. Yet, down through the history of prisons, penal reformers are legion. In contemplating the extraordinary saga of John Howard (1773) and his narrative, The State of the Prisons in Europe and England, Norval makes note of his own life's journey of penal reform.
In an incomparably lesser way, I have devoted the last five-and-a-half decades to the minutiae of prison regimes in four continents. Yet, a vocation in the academic side of criminal law provided all I needed by way of a comfortable, professional, and personal life. To add myself to the list of prison reformers is not to draw a self-serving comparison. Rather, it is to seek an answer to the troublesome question: Why should anyone of reasonable ability see the conditions of prison life as meriting serious and sustained concern? So, when devising prison conditions, you should devise them for yourself. (NM)
As the nineteenth century American prison reform heroine, Elizabeth Gurney Fry has advised: If thee should build a prison, consider thee and thine children might inhabit it. In tribute to Norval Morris, and at his behest for achieving a better understanding of the dilemma(s) of corrections, I recommend an absorbing read of "Manonochie's Gentlemen." Here one will find the heart and soul of a life committed to penal reform. Here, too, one will discover how we will all continue to benefit from the enduring legacy of Norval Morris.
Jess Maghan
Chester, Connecticut (2/25/04)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise for MACONOCHIE'S GENTLEMEN 26 Feb 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Maconochie's Gentlemen" displays Norval Morris's large gifts as a fine narrative writer and a preeminent social scientist. This is a book that fits Aristotle's directive that fine art should enlighten and entertain. It is, in the first instance, an illuminating story, told through the eyes of Captain Maconochie and the family and colleagues he brought with him to Norfolk Island in 1840, of Western society's first efforts at penal rehabilitation. The fiction is followed by incisive reflections by Morris in his role as one of America's leading criminologists, relating Maconochie's experiment to the circumstances today. The book is engrossing in both modes and is thoughtful, moving, and revealing at all points. My hat is off to Norval Morris."--Scott F. Turow
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for criminology majors 7 Oct 2005
By J. A. Zavala - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I bought this book for my Corrections class. It's not really the most exicting class in the world but the book proved to be a great subjective source of Prision Reform. Aside from random sexual references, this book is a must for Criminology Majors!
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars remarkable!!!!! 22 Dec 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Seldom have I read a book with which I agreed more completely.
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