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    Adelaide - Gaols, Reformatories and the Law

    An Essay on the Adelaide Gaol


    There are many stirring tales to be told of the early history of South Australia and one such story surrounds the old Adelaide Gaol or 'Ashton's Hotel'. William Baker Ashton (1803-1854), the first governor of the gaol had two 'hotels', the first being famous for the fact that more prisoners escaped than could be effectively secured, even with the aid of armed guards. Mr Ashton had served in the London detective police with such credit that he was sent out to Adelaide with a promise of a good appointment and this he obtained.

    While newly arrived settlers battled to establish Adelaide from the chaos of the bush a number of ticket-of-leave men, escaped convicts and other desperadoes from Van Diemen's Land (modern-day Tasmania) and New South Wales, arrived in the new colony, where many of them hoped that the long arm of the law would not reach them. Early in 1838 this inflow of undesirables culminated in the appointment of a Sheriff who was attacked one night by three of them.

    He was robbed and shot at and the outrage caused the Governor to call a meeting of citizens when special constables were sworn in. Two of the three assailants were captured and one of them, Magee, who fired the shot, was sentenced to be hanged. Other notorious characters of the early days were to become familiar with 'Ashton's Hotel' - bushrangers, cattle thieves, who found refuge in the Mount Lofty Ranges, and the horse stealers, some of whom sought sanctuary in the Black Forest. With the building of the Stockade, as Yatala prison was first called, Ashton's Hotel became all but a gentleman's residence in comparison with its early status - from the 1860s it held only petty offenders, prisoners awaiting trial and women.

    The First Gaols

    Early in 1837 a firm of builders tendered for the erection of a wooden gaol, but their submission of £250 was declined, while a few months later a lower figure of £168 met a similar fate. The Buffalo, which brought Governor Hindmarsh and other officials to the colony, was used as a prison until she departed, after which a tent, with an area of ground in front enclosed with a rope, served the purpose, with two turnkeys patrolling with a Brown Bess musket.

    The prisoners were heavily ironed and allowed scant exercise; they slept on the ground and, even in the coldest weather, were not given blankets - a petition for relief from this harsh treatment prompted the governor to state that he was 'daily shocked at seeing the miserable condition in which [they were] placed.'

    The tent was replaced with a wooden structure in 1838 - it comprised of two compartments each measuring nine feet by ten feet. Later, other buildings were added and the gaol was surrounded by a pine fence; an entrance gate was manned by a sentry. By the close of 1840 it consisted of one stone building, and a wooden structure for female inmates, all of which was in a state of disrepair and generally disowned as a wretched and filthy house.

    In March 1840 it was decided that some use should be made of prison labour outside of the gaol for hitherto it had been confined leisurely to 'smoking, sleeping and devouring comfortable rations.' Chain gangs were formed to commence work on roads within North Adelaide; however, the working parties were not successful because friends came to look on and brought refreshments and sometimes the whole gang, guards included, staggered back to the gaol intoxicated. They were then put to work making tents, corn sacks and ore bags, the necessary material and appliances being supplied by mining and mercantile firms.

    The Gaol of 1841

    Within four months of Governor Gawler's arrival six prisoners escaped and this resulted in further recruitment to the police force and a concomitant push for the erection of a new gaol. In March 1840 Judge Cooper sent him a copy of the Grand Jury's presentment, stating that the gaol was totally inadequate for the number of prisoners, that debtors were herded up with felons, that escapes were frequent and recommending the immediate erection of a new gaol.

    A site was selected in July 1840 and by the time of the arrival of Governor Grey in May 1841 it was under construction - the proposed building was planned to hold 116 inmates, with room for a further 25 in case of necessity; indeed, it was considered to be a 'bastille large enough for New South Wales' and four times too large for needs for the future. Its erection constituted a major catastrophe for the whole population of the State. It led to Gawler's dismissal and to the ruin of the contractors; it was one of the main causes of a depression which bankrupted many of the pioneers and caused hardship to the remainder. Even the prisoners were dissatisfied, for though the new 'hotel' was, no doubt, more commodious, it had the grave disadvantage of being secure.

    The cost of the gaol was in the vicinity of £40,000, which was exactly a fifth of the total sum set aside by the Commissioners for the complete establishment of the new colony. Gawler paid for the work with bills drawn on the authorities at home. These were promptly repudiated and the Governor recalled in disgrace. The contractors were ruined and a wave of panic swept Adelaide. Bills and mortgages were called up and many of the settlers who, by their four year's pioneering, had laid the foundations of the State's future progress, were forced into bankruptcy.

    At this time there was a debtor's department within the gaol which was well filled owing to the commercial calamities occasioned by the dishonour of Governor Gawler's bills. Notwithstanding the inability of these inmates to pay their creditors they could always find money for newspapers and other luxuries. One in particular - a bogus bank manager - had a well furnished room with reading desk and other conveniences. Indeed, the lodgers suffered little beyond the curtailment of personal liberty and were, as a general rule, better off than their creditors.

    It is interesting that one of the gaol's towers is not castellated - when Governor Grey arrived following Gawler's recall he called an immediate halt to its construction and the defect has not since been remedied.

    Picking oakum was a major occupation engaged in by the inmates and, by September 1848, three cells were filled, with a ton or more of it confronted by a glutted market. In 1849 a treadmill was installed and put to use grinding flour; its introduction was opposed both within and without parliament as being 'criminally useless torture'. The Colonial Chaplain, Reverend Howard, considered it to be a means of applying physical torture and mental degradation and concluded by saying 'reform your gaols, down with the treadmill and up with man!'

    A tender from John Wyatt for a treadmill was accepted in November 1849 and, as the apparatus was also utilitarian, agreed to supply and fix 'one pair of two feet six inch stones for grinding flour and a dressing machine to same.'

    The Gaol in 1867

    (See Geoffrey H Manning's A Colonial Experience)

    As a member of charitable institution, that attempted to give spiritual and other comforts to prisoners, I visited the gaol in 1867. It exhibited a highly interesting mixture of ancient brick and modern Glen Osmond stone. On approaching from the Thebarton Road a rather dull, antiquated front presented itself.

    It was of very considerable length, having in the centre a two-storey building, which contained the Superintendent's house and office, the prison chapel, etc. Within the outer wall, and separated from it by a roadway twelve or fifteen feet wide, was a lower wall which surrounded the several yards. The yard gates were placed in a bay in the inner wall facing the main entrance. Entering them in their order, the first, which was the farthest east, was appropriated to male prisoners under sentence. It contained at thirty souls, most of whom worked on the Torrens dam.

    Before that famous municipal dirt-pie was discovered for them they were employed on the young plantations which surrounded the gaol. Four thousand trees were planted in one season and with the aesthetic had been combined a large vineyard and vegetable garden. Both to the public and to the prisoners this wholesome spadework was, to my mind, a vast improvement on oakum-picking or the treadmill.

    Neither the yards or the cells could compare with those at the Stockade in respect of convenience or comfort. I could see no beds at the gaol, only hammocks hung across the cells at a distance of four or five feet from the floor. Number 2 Yard held those committed for trial. In making their penal arrangements the authorities showed that 'tick' was expected to play an important part in colonial life the third yard providing accommodation, such as it was, for thirty-two commercial offenders.

    The fourth and fifth yards may be best described together, as they formed the female department, and the building which was the most conspicuous feature in them was common property. There was a balcony on each of the upper floors enclosed with venetian shutters to prevent female curiosity taking notice of anything that passed in the yards of the male prisoners. They were divided into two classes - known bad characters, who were kept in No. 5 yard and those who were committed for the first time. In the latter yard I observed a good deal of washing in process.

    A parliamentary grant of £2,000 had been obtained, the chief part of which was to be expended on a new range of cells between number 2 and 3 Yards thus replacing a single row of old cells, part of which was occupied by persons committed for trial and the rest by the debtors. A portion of the grant was to be appropriated to the erection of a new chapel, the present one being a very dingy confined apartment. At the time the Sunday services were conducted by the Church of England in the morning and the Wesleyans in the afternoon. The Roman Catholics held a week-day service.

    The east side was occupied by close-confinement cells. On the west side was first the hospital, then a storeroom, a kitchen, and lastly an oakum depot, which, like the close-confinement cells, was rather out of date.

    The degree of criminality was indicated in a rough way by the number of repeated committals. Out of the total of 794 only 73, or less than ten per cent, had been previously in gaol; once before, 29; twice, 11; three times and upwards, 43. Educational tests gave very peculiar results. Of the total 794 nearly three-fourths (551) could read and write, 81 could read only, and 162, or a little more than a fifth of the whole, could neither read nor write.

    Flogging at the Adelaide Gaol


    'Lay leather to the backs of them', was the treatment recommended by Carlyle, when he was questioned as to how juvenile ruffians should be treated. The advice, whatever its intrinsic value may be, certainly has the merit of simplicity. If thrashing were a universal panacea for all the moral evils that juvenile flesh is heir to, a world of trouble would be saved to statesmen, reformers and economists.

    I have no sympathy with scoundrelism, no wish to screen the guilty from deserved punishment, no squeamish sentimentalism to gratify. But I cannot forget that beneath the dirty jacket of even the ruffian, who skulks abroad at night in search of his victims, there beats a human heart. And who will dare affirm that a heart can be softened by the agonies of the lash?

    Despotic governments have tried the experiment for ages without success. The theory that the diseases of the mind may be cured by torturing the body is worthy of the dark ages in which it originated and may, perhaps, be still acted upon daily by Eastern potentates, 'who sits amid the herd of mute barbarians bending to his nod.' Or are the laws more respected in southern Asia than in northern Europe?

    In the reign of Henry VIII it was death by law to steal any article exceeding ten pence in value. Has crime increased since then in proportion to the amelioration of our criminal code? And if not, why not? To all appearances we are as far off yet from the days when reformatories, hulks and other modes of confinement, will be banished from the land, as we are from the days of the millennium.

    Juvenile ruffianism, or its colonial equivalent, larrikinism, is susceptible of no short, sharp and final method of treatment. We must still trust to Christianising agencies, to the kindly influences of the benevolent, the guidance of moral teachers, or failing all that, the stern hand of the law. And the law has long regarded the 'cat' as one of its most effective weapons.

    Flogging in South Australia

    The question of flogging and imprisonment was the subject of debate in parliament and the press in the 1880s and one section of the community approved of the alleged justice and expediency of many severe sentences passed at the Criminal Sessions and it was 'with a certain amount of pride that the public [learned] of the floggings which have taken place at the Adelaide Gaol.'

    One man convicted of a criminal assault on a little girl was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, with three whippings of twenty strokes each, while another who assaulted and robbed a Chinaman on the Bay Road received a similar gaol sentence and two whippings of twenty strokes each.

    A newspaper editor concluded that 'crimes of so violent and detestable a character can only be put down by the most unflinching severity in carrying out the law. Everyone will remember how quickly the resort to the lash had the effect of stamping out the horrible crime of garrotting in England, when the brutal ruffians who perpetrated it seemed to have fairly got the upper hand of the law. It would seem that similar severity is necessary in this colony in putting down assaults of various kinds.'

    I take issue with the alleged remedial effect for, against this contention, statistics have been cited to show that the epidemic of crime in England was practically over before the legislation was introduced.

    Of this survival in English law Sir Robert Rawlinson said:

    While a majority of South Australians, perhaps, were in favour of the retention of flogging I was not one of them and, whilst the debate was at its height in 1884, Mr B.T. Finniss, the first Premier of South Australia, wrote a stirring piece of prose condemning this barbaric practice: 'I have watched with pain and anxiety the advocacy of a system which I think deserves reprobation instead of approval', he said.

    'The writers of articles [in favour of flogging] describe the sufferings of the men under the hands of the public executioner as conveying to them a sense of pleasure. They mention the yells of the victims with apparent satisfaction as though they rejoiced in the torture inflicted. I cannot but hold that such punishments are brutal and tend to degrade not only the victims, but society.

    'We once had laws which decreed torture for certain offences, chiefly political and religious. The edicts of the Star Chamber and of the Holy Inquisition mark the savagedom of the times in which they were permitted. It has long been the boast of Englishmen that they have abolished the use of torture, and the humanitarian tendencies of this age extend even to alleviating the sufferings of men undergoing the extreme sentences of law.

    'Will not men who have suffered the punishment of flogging, the marks of which brand a man for life, be the enemies of society ever after? Will their nature be softened? Will the nature of the community, which hears and sees such punishment, be softened? Are men not ferocious enough by nature, unless restrained and civilised by education in tender years? Do not ideas and sights of pain and suffering inflicted in the name of the law tend to encourage brutality?

    'We have long recognised the fact by withdrawing public execution from the public gaze and covering them in the walls of our prisons. We set the example in this respect to England, which she has followed. Shall we now reverse the lesson and teach her that we are cruel with all our philanthropy. The long possession of power makes tyrants of the best of men. Let us beware that the continued exercise of irresponsible power by our legislators should also tend to lessen their respect for human nature, and for themselves should they in the future lend themselves to the use of torture.'

    Mr Finniss then went on to recount his experiences as a young soldier in England: 'I was summoned to attend a punishment parade. The regiment was formed into a hollow square facing inwards, the young officers being outside the square... I could witness the operation of flogging a young soldier who had been sentenced to receive 300 lashes. The unfortunate culprit was brought into the centre of the square and after being stripped to his trousers was lashed to three halberds and his limbs extended like a spreadeagle.

    'The regimental surgeon stood by him to watch how much he could bear, whilst the drum-major directed the services of the drummers who administered the strokes, each drummer in turn administering 25 lashes. This was my first experience at such a scene and my feelings were those of shame and horror as I gazed on the unfortunate soldier, who could not even display his sense of suffering by any movement or struggles, as his limbs were fixed tightly to the triangles.

    'I never got over my disgust of such punishment, although I had to witness many in my military career of ten years; and on one occasion I saw a man receive 600 lashes with only once a groan, when he was struck in a fresh place by an inexperienced drummer.

    'This noble man, for I knew he was one, was a pugilist and of immense strength... When it was all over he drew his shirt over his bleeding shoulders and marched off to the hospital with his escort with as much coolness and steadiness as if he had never been tortured. Happily, flogging in the army has been abolished and it is to be hoped that it will be abolished in our civil courts for any offence whatever as the last survival of an age of tyranny and oppression.'

    Some Notable Executions at the Gaol and Elsewhere

    (Taken from Geoffrey H. Manning's A Colonial Experience)

    September 1894 witnessed the execution of the forty-second person during the 57 years history of South Australia. Of these 22 were Aborigines, 19 Europeans and one Chinaman. The record includes only one woman.

    The first was Michael Magee who was condemned for an armed assault on the Sheriff. On 2 May 1838 he was led to a gum tree at the foot of North Adelaide hill where the hanging took place; the grisly affair was described as follows:

    The next to suffer the death penalty was Wong Nintia (Aboriginal), alias Tommy Roundhead, on 31 May 1839 for killing James Thompson at Tam o'Shanter. The third was Yirr Soha, (Aboriginal) alias George, on 21 April 1839 for the murder of W. Duffield.

    The fourth hanging was at the first police barracks, G. Hughes and H. Curran being executed on 16 March 1840 for stealing and firing with intent to murder. This was a public execution and was made the more repulsive by the callousness and bravado of Hughes who, when being pinioned, begged a whiff of tobacco and, on getting a pipe, put it in his mouth and, rushing out, ran up the steps of the scaffold. Then he rushed to the executioner, as that functionary approached to adjust the noose, and attempted to strike him and, if his arms had not been pinioned, he would have effected his purpose.

    He kicked violently while the rope was being adjusted and had to be restrained by two men. Curran was in a penitent mood, but Hughes behaved as a desperado to the last, for when the bolt was drawn and the drop fell he made a sudden spring and caught the ledge of the opening with one of his feet which, however, was kicked away by the Colonial Chaplain.

    In front of the gaol, then under construction, Joseph Stagg ended his life on 18 November 1840 for the murder of John Gofton. This execution was attended by strange circumstances, the elements of which would have furnished ample material for a sensational romance or a melodrama. The trailing of Stagg and the way the crime was brought home to him by the police, with the late Inspector Tolmer at the head, in itself furnishes a narrative that would need little embellishment to rank with some of the imaginative detective stories of the present day.

    When being pinioned Stagg declared that he was about to die for a murder he never committed, but that the true murderer was standing in the crowd before him, and he added that he, however, deserved to die because of the part he took in the roasting to death of a man who was a flagellator in Van Diemen's Land. He mounted the scaffold with wonderful nerve and met his death without further protest. He was the first criminal interred in what was then the new gaol.

    Some years afterwards Mr Justice Cooper received a dispatch from the Secretary of State intimating that a lunatic named Lomas, a former trooper in the SA Mounted Police, had voluntarily confessed to having shot Gofton. This called for a most careful investigation and it resulted in satisfying him that the admission was a fabrication.

    One of the most painful sensations of the olden days was when on Saturday, 25 July 1840, a message from Encounter Bay startled the people of Adelaide with the information that a shipwreck had taken place on the south coast, east of the bay, and that a number of the passengers had been murdered by Aborigines. Encounter Bay Bob, a local Aborigine, made a sensational report that the dead bodies of ten white men and five women and some children had been found. Search parties were sent out and finally came upon a scene which was described as simply horrible.

    There were legs, bodies and arms of those massacred, partially covered with sand, and human trunks thrown into wombat holes. A party of policemen and others captured several of the Millemnura, a big coastal tribe and, upon the persons of many of the men and lubras, and in almost every wurley, were found articles of European clothing stained with blood. Two Aborigines were subsequently sentenced to death and hanged in the presence of the tribe for being implicated in some seventeen murders.

    Executions From 1843

    Ngartu (Aboriginal) in August 1843 for the murder of Elizabeth Stubbs.

    Wera Maldera, alias Peter (Aboriginal) in front of the gaol on 29 March 1847 for the murder of G. Magrath on 3 June 1846 at the Coorong. Of this event a local newspaper editor opined:

    Thomas Donelly, in front of the gaol on 29 March 1847, for the murder of a South Australian native on 1 September 1846 at Rivoli Bay.

    Ninlatta, Pulturunga and Keelgoulla (Aboriginals) at Port Lincoln on 9 November 1849, for the murder of James Beevor on 3 May 1849.

    James Yates in front of the gaol on 5 September 1850 for murder of a shepherd named Mansforth at Skillogalee Creek on 24 July 1850. To display his gratitude to Mr G.M. Stephen for defending him at his trial the condemned man made an effort at versification and the following copy is verbatim et literatum:

    It was estimated that between 400 and 600 adults were present, very few of whom were females, 'and those with scarcely any exception were of the most abandoned class.'

    William Wright in front of the gaol on 12 March 1853 for causing the death of an unknown man (presumed to be Robert Head) at East Wellington:

    William Bell, in front of the gaol on 12 March 1855 for the murder of Augustus Wallrecht on 15 November 1854 at Port Adelaide.

    Nadiltrie, Paingulta and Ilyalta (Aboriginals) hanged at Franklin Harbour on 14 January 1856 for the murder of Peter Brown on 1 June 1855 at Mid-Camp Station:

    Mangelta (Aboriginal) hanged at Streaky Bay on 5 October 1860 for the murder of John Jones at Mount Joy on 13 May 1860.

    Pitti Miltinda, Alias Bobby, Tankuwurtini, alias George Jimmy and Warratinga, alias Kop Robert (Aboriginals) in the gaol on 6 June 1861 for the murder of Mary Ann Rainbird and two children on 11 March 1861, near Kapunda.

    Nall Yerria, alias Billy and Pilcheria (Aboriginals), alias Harry at Fowlers Bay on 8 September 1861 for the murder of T.G. Boergeost on 19 January 1861.

    Karalbidna (Aboriginal), alias Willy Mangiltia, alias Jimmy, for the murder of Margaret A. Impsey at Mount Wedge on 2 May 1861.

    John Seaver, the murderer of Inspector Richard Pettinger at Government House on 4 February 1861, was hanged in the Adelaide Gaol on 11 March 1863. The execution was strictly private in accordance with Act No. 23 of 1858:

    Magultie was hanged at Venus Bay on 8 September 1863 for the murder of W. Walker at Kongalia, Port Lincoln.

    Malachi Martin was hanged at the gaol on 6 December 1863 for a murder of Jane MacMenamin at Salt Creek on 6 February 1862.

    Carl Jung was executed by B. Ellis at Mount Gambier in November 1871 for the murder of a sheriff's officer at Mount Gambier.

    The execution on 3 December 1873 of Elizabeth Woolcock is told below under 'The Hanging of Women'.

    One of the most saddest executions, perhaps, was that of William Ridgeway, aged nineteen, who was convicted of a murder at Coonatto of an aged bushman, Frederick Burt, who had been a very kind friend to him, but whose money - a small sum - he coveted:

    Another example of bravado was furnished in the Adelaide gaol by a bushman named Hugh Fagan who was condemned to death for killing, with an axe, his mate, Patrick Bannon, at Saltia on 26 November 1877, under the most revolting circumstances of savagery:

    Another execution took place at the Adelaide Gaol on 16 July 1878 and one at Mount Gambier on 18 November 1881, for the murder by Robert Johnstone, alias William Nugent of Trooper Pearce who was stabbed cowardly under revolting circumstances.

    William Burns was hanged by Robert Heard in Adelaide on 13 January 1883 for the murder of Henry Loton aboard the ship Douglas on the high seas on 23 September 1882.

    The execution of a Chinaman, Mah Poo, took place at the gaol on 10 November 1883. He was a man of 26 years, who hailed from one of the most barbaric parts of the celestial Empire. He graduated in English, reading, writing and arithmetic in the Stockade. He was condemned for the murder of a countryman, Tommy Ah Fook, a hawker, whom he shot on 27 August 1883. While awaiting execution he abstained from food and tried to starve himself to death.

    Over the same period, as traversed above, 64 prisoners, who received sentences of death, were commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour.

    The Hanging of Women

    Elizabeth Woolcock was hanged on 3 December 1873 for killing her husband with slow doses of mercury and her callous act created a painful public sensation:

    I pose the question - Would the moral sense of the community experience no shock from a treatment of a woman in many ways, which are now regarded as not unjust to men, but wanting in respect and consideration for women? History proves that no answer can be given to these questions on the basis of the supposed innate reverence for the other sex.

    In earlier days, as now among savages, men did not revere but contemn. It is quite certain that even in the early Christian church the attitude towards women was generally what would now be thought contemptuously narrow. The writings of the Fathers are full of scornful references to women - they were to Saint Chrysotom 'a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic peril, a deadly fascination, a painted ill.'

    The ideal good woman was one who was contented with the domestic atmosphere and rendered strict obedience to her husband. Woman have advanced steadily, gaining an individual and social freedom from century to century; but to what point the tendencies of the present time may lead us it is difficult to say. Women are more emancipated today than they were in the past, but the execution of a woman appears to the cultivated sense of humanity far more shocking now than it ever did before.


    We are a generation remarkable for our tender and considerate treatment of criminals. The roughness and brutality of old-time methods have disappeared. Humanitarianism has given us the conception of a prisoner as one to be reformed as well as punished. We are done with vindictive penalties. A man is no longer hanged for stealing a sheep and, in a few cases where capital punishment is imposed, we put the convict out of the world almost with an apology for taking so grave a liberty.

    Today, capital punishment is still reserved in practically the whole of the 'civilised' world as the lot of those criminals who willfully and designedly take the lives of innocent fellow-creatures. England and Russia hang the murderer with the rope; Germany, Austria and Switzerland sever his head from his body by the means of the sword, and France and Belgium by the guillotine, which of course is only a machine-like form of the sword; Spain chokes him to death by the garrote and America makes away with its murderous criminals by means of an electric current.

    Whilst all Christians acknowledge the authority of the Bible, they differ widely in the interpretation and construction of the verses generally relied upon in this argument - 'Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord' - It is no mere phrase for pulpit thunderings, but is a wise, humane, and essential doctrine for communities as well as individuals. But it is said the safety of society demands the exaction of the extreme penalty. I answer, with all the emphasis I can command, that public safety demands the immediate abolition of capital punishment.

    If life is so sacred that there is no corner of the earth in which a known murderer can escape the laws of extradition, how, in the name of all that is sane, can the State be justified in taking life? If punishment, moreover, can deter the incarceration in a lunatic asylum, or a gaol 'for the term of his natural life', it is an infinitely more appalling punishment than to be called upon to face a sudden, awful death at the hands of the common hangman. To take life, because life has been taken, is criminally inconsistent and undermines that belief in the sacredness of human existence which the law seeks to protect. I view the infliction of capital punishment by the State with undiminished horror.

    The gospel of a 'life for a life' is an extreme application of that most brutal of all Jewish tenets, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". It would be difficult to find any topic which brings into stronger light the silliness of human nature. Some are still found to argue on a verse in Genesis that the Deity is in favour of executing murderers, but no other criminals. It is probable that this verse has actually helped to determine our criminal law to this day. 'He took a life, he ought to swing for it' says the man in the street. But the State, no more than the individual, has no right to exact revenge.

    Under a regularly constituted government, I incline to the opinion that the punishment of death might be wisely, and safely, and in all cases, be abolished. The punishments to be substituted may be debated, but with regard to the fundamental question - 'Have we any right to abolish the penalty of death and could we safely make the experiment?' - I reply to both in the affirmative, for the spirit of our age revolts against capital punishment.

    I put the following questions to the parliament:

    1. Does the murderer when forming his plans ever think he will be discovered?
    2. Does severity of punishment lessen or prevent crime?
    3. What is the object of punishment?

    To the first I would reply that I believe he does not, or he would be deterred from his terrible act; to the second I also reply it does not, and in support of my opinion state that it is a fact that when the crime of horse stealing in England no longer attracted the death penalty the crime itself became less frequent. My answer to the third is, I believe the object of punishment is, or should be, deterrent and remedial. Capital punishment, I hold, fails in either case.

    Today, the advocate of the abolition of capital punishment is still unpopular, but the lust for blood has not prevented a gradual change in the criminal code - the public is hovering on the brink. It is undecided whether to retain the principle in case of need or, having gone so far, to take the plunge and abolish capital punishment altogether. We cannot execute death on the mere probability of a Divine command: its absolute certainty is essential. In the name of human life I call upon parliament to remove this terrible blood stain from our Statute book.

    General Notes

    "Erecting the Adelaide Gaol" is in The Mail,
    11 February 1928, page 3g.
    Historical information is in the Register,
    8 April 1919, page 4f,
    19, 23 and 26 August 1920, pages 5d, 8f and 3g.

    "Prison Discipline" is in the Observer,
    3 and 24 February 1849, pages 1d and 2e.

    The introduction of a treadmill at the gaol is reported in the Southern Australian,
    6 July 1849, page 2c,
    6 November 1924, page 10h.

    An increase in the incidence of robberies is discussed in the South Australian, 11 May 1849, page 2c:

    A description of a hanging in front of the Adelaide Gaol is in the South Australian,
    9 September 1850, page 3b.

    "Murder at Her Majesty's Gaol" is in the Observer,
    22 February 1851, page 1e (supp.).

    "An Attempt to Break Out of Jail" is in the Adelaide Times,
    28 July 1851, page 3c.

    "Secrets of the Prison House" is the subject of controversy in the Register,
    20 and 24 April 1854, pages 3c and 2d,
    1, 2 8 and 16 May 1854, pages 2g-3c-g, 2b, 2e and 3e.

    Information on the gaol is in the Register,
    31 January 1855, page 3d.

    "Our Criminal Population" is in the Observer,
    3 February 1855, page 5c.

    The mounted police barracks are described in the Register,
    8 March 1855, page 3d.
    "The New Police Barracks" is in the Advertiser,
    16 July 1916, page 8f,
    2 March 1917, page 8g.
    Also see South Australia - Police.

    "Prison Regulations" is in the Register,
    19 March 1855, page 2d,
    "The Stockade at Dry Creek" on
    20 February 1856, page 2d.
    The gaol and its inmates are described on
    13 April 1857, page 2d and
    the new Dry Creek Labour Prison in the Advertiser,
    15 August 1858, page 3b.

    "The Gaol" is in the Register,
    2 April 1856, page 3c,
    13 April 1857, page 2e. Observer,
    5 April 1856, page 5g.

    "Classification of Prisoners in the Adelaide Gaol" is in the Observer,
    31 January 1857, pages 1e (supp.) and 2g (supp.).

    An attempted escape from the gaol is reported in the Observer,
    23 and 30 January 1858, pages 3d and 3f.

    "Daring Attempt to Break Out of Gaol" is in the Chronicle,
    29 January 1859, page 7e,
    25 May 1860, page 3f,
    26 May 1860, page 5h.

    The prisoners' Christmas dinner is discussed in the Register,
    27 December 1859, page 3g.

    "The Adelaide Gaol" is in the Register,
    21, 27 and 28 June 1860, pages 3c, 3g and 2g,
    "Prisoners in Gaol" on
    14 and 17 December 1861, pages 2h and 3a,
    3 January 1862, page 3c.

    Information on discharged prisoners from the Stockade is in the Register,
    4 December 1860, page 3g; also see
    20 February 1862, page 2e,
    22 February 1862, page 1h (supp.).

    An editorial containing a description of the gaol is in the Register,
    4 January 1862, page 2e,
    20 February 1862, page 2e; also see
    18 February 1862, page 2h.

    Interesting editorials under the heading "Prison Labour" are in the Register,
    27 March 1863, page 2e,
    9 April 1863, page 2d,
    5 May 1863, page 2e.

    Housebreaking is discussed in the Register,
    13 and 17 October 1865, pages 2d and 2f.

    "More Sticking-Up" is in the Register,
    3 and 28 April 1866, pages 2f and 2h,
    8 May 1866, page 2f,
    13 June 1866, page 2d,
    20 July 1866, page 3d,
    18 August 1866, page 2c,
    8 and 26 September 1866, pages 2e and 2f,
    3 and 27 October 1866, pages 2c and 2d,
    7 November 1866, page 2d,
    22 and 30 November 1866, pages 2c and 2d,
    16 February 1867, page 2c,
    1 March 1867, page 2h.

    "A Night in a Lock-Up - By an Involuntary Casual" is in the Register,
    4 May 1866, page 2h,
    5 May 1866, page 3c (supp.).

    "The Police and the Footpads" is in the Register,
    21 July 1866, page 2c,
    18 August 1866, page 2c.

    An editorial on the Adelaide Reformatory is in the Register,
    16 January 1867, page 2e.

    The gaol is described in the Register,
    13 March 1867, page 2b,
    4 May 1867, page 6b.

    "The Late Robberies in the City" is in the Register,
    18 November 1867, page 2g.

    An editorial on the Gaol is in the Register,
    13 March 1867, page 2b -
    for earlier information see
    Parliamentary Papers 64 and 69 of 1854.

    "City Arabs on the Prowl" is in the Register,
    22 July 1869, page 2h,
    "Our Street Arabs" on
    5 July 1875, page 6c,
    "Street Arabs" on
    23 March 1905, page 3f,
    14 August 1905, page 4f.

    A police raid in Rundle Street upon "old roues and fast youths" and their consorts is reported in the Observer,
    2 July 1870, page 5b.

    Information on the gaol in respect of females is in the Register,
    25 August 1870, page 3e:

    The death of a governor of the gaol, Charles J. Lawrence, is reported in the Register,
    28 May 1873, page 5c,
    31 May 1873, page 8a.

    A prisoner's comprehensive and literate account of "Four Days on Remand" in the Adelaide gaol is in the Register, 6 December 1875, page 7d:

    Making olive oil at the gaol is discussed in the Register on
    1 January 1876, page 5d; also see
    19 January 1876, page 5g.

    A feature article on the gaol is in the Register,
    7 March 1876, page 5f to which the master of the vessel Kapunda, R.B. MacFarlane responded:

    A perceptive reader remonstrated with this response on 11 March 1876, page 6d:

    "The Adelaide Gaol" is in the Observer,
    25 March 1876, page 18d,
    "Gaol Discipline" on
    5 August 1876, page 4d.

    "Burglaries in the City" is in the Register,
    20 and 24 July 1877, pages 5b and 4c.

    "Our Penal Establishments" is in the Register,
    5 April 1878, page 5d.

    "A Picturesque Penitentiary - By an Eye Witness" is in the Register,
    8 November 1878, page 5e.

    A feature article on the gaol is in the Register,
    8 November 1878, page 5e; also see
    23 April 1879, page 5f,
    5 February 1883, page 6d,
    19 May 1883, page 6g.

    "Two Days in the Watchhouse" is in the Advertiser,
    27 January 1879, page 6c.

    "Enlargement of the Adelaide Gaol" is in the Observer,
    3 May 1879, page 10f,
    A description of the cells is in the Observer,
    3 May 1879, page 19f.

    An editorial on the debtors' ward of the Adelaide gaol is in the Advertiser,
    12 March 1880, page 4f.

    A raid on a Chinese gambling den is reported in the Register,
    13 April 1880, page 5c; also see
    16 April 1880, page 7e.

    "From Arrest to Release", a record of four years imprisonment in Yatala Gaol, is in the Register,
    15 December 1884.

    "A Night in the City Watch-House" is in the Advertiser,
    12 January 1885, page 6a.

    "Depredations by Juveniles" is in the Register,
    19 February 1887, page 5c.
    "Children on the Streets" is in the Register,
    10 October 1900, page 7g.
    Also see South Australia - Social Matters - Miscellany - Children and Youths.

    Alleged grievances at the police barracks are aired in the Register,
    19 March 1887, page 6f and
    14 April 1887, page 6c.
    New barracks are described on
    22 July 1916, page 9d.
    Photographs are in the Chronicle,
    10 March 1917, page 28.
    Also see South Australia - Police.

    "Robbers and Night Prowlers" is in the Register,
    15 August 1887, page 4g.

    An informative letter concerning Yatala gaol is in the Register,
    13 December 1888, page 7g, while
    "Reminiscences of the Old Adelaide Police Court" appear on
    26 July 1890, page 5h.

    "Burglaries in Adelaide" is in the Register,
    29 March 1889, page 4f,
    3 April 1889, page 7d.

    "The Adelaide Gaol" is in the Express,
    11 September 1888, page 2d,
    2 July 1892, page 30d.

    "Frauds on City Tradesmen" is in the Register,
    14 February 1890, page 7c.

    "The Governor of the Gaol [John Howell]" is in the Register,
    12 June 1890, page 5a,
    14 June 1890, page 30b.
    Biographical details of John Howell, Keeper of the Gaol, are in the Register,
    13 July 1896, page 3g and
    an obituary on
    29 November 1905, page 7a,
    2 December 1905, page 38a.

    "Howell's Hotel" is in the Register,
    9 April 1891, page 5c.

    "The Gaol Diet" is discussed in the Advertiser,
    6 April 1892, page 7e,
    "The Police Moiety" on
    18 September 1895, page 3i,
    8, 10 and 15 January 1896, pages 4h-6b, 5a and 4e,
    23 December 1897, page 4f,
    15 July 1908, page 7d.
    "How Gaol and City Cell Menus Compare" is in The News,
    27 July 1937, page 1d.

    "The Gaol Roll" is in the Register,
    25 June 1892, page 5c.

    The provision of free prison labour at the sheep and cattle market is discussed in the Register,
    24 and 25 March 1893, pages 3e and 7a.

    "Police Protection of the City" is in the Register,
    20 July 1894, page 6c.

    "The Foot Police" is in the Express,
    27 August 1895, page 3f.

    A hanging at the gaol is described in the Register,
    7 November 1895, page 6e,
    12 July 1897, page 7b.
    Also see South Australia - Crime, Law and Punishment - Capital Punishment.

    "A Cell With a History" is in the Express,
    27 October 1896, pages 2c-3c,
    "The City Council and Prison Labor" on
    23 December 1896, page 3e.

    "The Suicide at the Gaol" is in the Register,
    26 October 1896, pages 5a-6e.

    "The Escaped Prisoners" is in the Express,
    18 October 1897, page 3b,
    11, 12, 18 and 19 October 1897, pages 5c, 4g- 5a-c and 5h-7f.

    "Sensational Burglaries" is in the Register,
    27 June 1898, page 5g.

    "The Burglar Boom" is in the Register,
    31 March 1899, page 3h,
    24 May 1913, page 45a.
    "Burglars in the City - Safes Blown Open" is in the Chronicle,
    23 and 30 May 1903, pages 30c and 33c.
    "Encounter With Burglars - A Constable Seriously Wounded" is in the Express,
    21 September 1903, page 4a,
    "Armed Burglars" in the Observer,
    26 September 1903, page 36c.
    "Another Burglary Epidemic" is in the Express,
    26 April 1904, page 4f.

    "Adelaide and Its Environs - Is the Police Protection Sufficient" is in the Advertiser,
    19 July 1898, page 6a.

    "Prisoners and Their Treatment - How Prison Labour is Utilised" is in the Register,
    30 July 1902, page 8a.

    "Crime in Adelaide" is in the Advertiser,
    23 December 1902, page 5a,
    18 May 1903, page 4h and
    8 July 1903, page 5c,
    "Adelaide's Criminal Record" in the Register,
    19 January 1903, page 5a,
    24 January 1903, page 37b.

    "Crime in Adelaide - The Worst Period Known" is in the Register,
    8 July 1903, page 5c.

    "Armed Burglars - [Policeman] Shot in the Head" is in the Register,
    21 and 22 September 1903, pages 5a and 5b.

    "Who Shot Constable Donovan?" is in the Register,
    9 May 1904, page 5a.

    Biographical details of G.W. Norcock, gaol keeper, are in the Register,
    26 July 1904, page 4f.

    "Another Burglary Epidemic" is in the Express,
    26 April 1904, page 4f.

    "The Gentle Art of Shoplifting" is in the Register,
    9 July 1904, page 4e.
    "Shop Breakers - Shots Fired" is in the Register,
    6 March 1905, page 4h.

    "Death at the Adelaide Gaol - Treatment of Cancer Patients" is in the Register,
    4 April 1905, page 3b.

    Information on the gaol is in the Register,
    13 June 1905, page 7f.

    "The Torrens Lake Police" is in the Advertiser,
    17 April 1905, page 4h.
    Also see Torrens, River.

    "Shot by a Constable - The Christmas Night Incident" is in the Express,
    8 January 1906, page 3h,
    11 and 12 January 1906, pages 5b and 6a.

    "Gaols and Prisons" is in the Register,
    7 July 1906, page 11b.

    "To Outwit Burglars - Safe Deposit for Adelaide" is in the Register,
    31 March 1909, page 7c.

    "The Government Slums - Adelaide Gaol Warders' Quarters" is in The Herald,
    15 April 1909, page 12a,
    22 May 1909, page 1c,
    "The Lock-Up" on
    19 June 1909, page 9a,
    14 May 1909, page 8a.

    "Prison-Made Bottle Envelope" is in the Register,
    23 July 1909, page 6g.

    "Sneak Thieves in the City" is in the Advertiser,
    2 June 1910, page 10g,
    "Among the Debtors" on
    16 February 1912, page 13b.

    "Wholesale Shopbreaking in the Eastern Suburbs" is in the Observer,
    15 April 1911, page 46d.

    "A Cripple Sandbagged" is in the Register,
    24 June 1911, page 12h.

    "Danger in the Dark - Molestation and Robbery" is in the Register,
    12 January 1912, page 5b.

    "The Crime Wave - Citizens Arming" is in the Register,
    25 May 1912, page 15d,
    4, 8 and 13 June 1912, pages 12d, 18c and 6d-7b,
    1 and 8 June 1912, pages 38b and 45a.

    "Hatpins v Footpads" is in the Register,
    24 June 1912, page 6h.

    "A Revolting Assault" is in the Register,
    5 October 1912, page 14g.

    "Jealousy and Dynamite - Sensation in Flinders Street" is in the Register,
    3 December 1912, page 7a.

    The reminiscences of Thomas Rowett concerning the Adelaide gaol are in the Observer,
    12 July 1913, page 50d.

    "A Link With the Past - Old Detective Office" is in The Mail,
    10 January 1914, page 9f.

    "The Adelaide Police Court - A Dilapidated Interior" is in the Advertiser,
    10 April 1914, page 9d.

    "Foiled! - Criminals With Gelignite" is in the Register,
    1 June 1914, page 9c.

    "The New Police Barracks" is in the Advertiser,
    16 July 1916, page 8f,
    2 March 1917, page 8g.

    "A Question of Prison Diet" is in the Register,
    13 February 1918, page 6d.

    "Dyke, the Dynamitard" is in the Register,
    14 June 1918, page 6d.

    "The Honour System - How Prisoners Escape" is in the Register,
    18 December 1918, page 11g.

    Reminiscences of the Adelaide Gaol are in the Register,
    8 April 1919, page 4f,
    "Prisoners' Meals" is discussed on
    19 December 1928, page 13d.

    "Old Man's Remarkable Crime Record" is in the Register,
    29 November 1920, page 6g.

    The deprivations of "Captain Moonlight" are discussed in the Observer,
    27 August 1921, page 11d.

    "How a Bag Snatcher Was Stopped" is in the Register,
    16 November 1921, page 7d.

    "In Gaol - Present System of Correction" is in The Mail,
    21 April 1923, page 17d.

    "Police Attacked - West End Gang at Work" is in the Advertiser,
    19 April 1926, page 13c.

    "The State of Yatala Prison" is discussed in the Observer,
    11 May 1929, page 39c.

    "Behind the Bars of a Woman's Gaol" is in The Mail,
    3 February 1934, page 2c.

    A report on historic guests at "Ashton's Hotel" is in the Advertiser,
    21 November 1936, page 11g.

    The reminiscences of Miss Bessie Sugars, matron, are in The Mail,
    20 November 1937, page 14e.

    Also see South Australia - Crime, Law and Punishment.