Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Mapping Prisons

Convict Landscapes is an interactive map which allows you to explore plans of the former penal settlement of Port Arthur in Tasmania. From 1833 until 1853 the Port Arthur penal colony was the destination for the most hardened British criminals. British convicts who had re-offended after transportation and after their arrival in Australia were sent to Port Arthur. Because of the nature of the convicts sent to Port Arthur the penal colony had some of the strictest security measures of all the British penal colonies.

The Convict Landscapes map includes a timeline which allows you to view how the penal colony developed from 1830 and how it expanded over time. You can use the timeline at the top of the map to view the penal colony's plans for any year from 1830-1877. The buildings shown on the map can be clicked on to learn more about their function. If you click on a building on the map you can learn what it was used for and how long the building was in operation.

The numbers on the map relate to offences made by convicts living in Port Arthur. If you click on these numbers you can view the names of the prisoners, the nature of their offence and the punishment they received for this offence. For example, in September 1839 William Tubb was sentenced to 10 days solitary confinement on bread & water for the offence of 'Breaking into the Government store and stealing a quantity of potatoes and soap'.

If you are interested in the geography of prisons then you might also be interested in the Prison Map. Back in 2012 Josh Begley, who was then a graduate student studying Interactive Telecommunications at New York University, created a website to display the satellite images of correctional facilities in the United States.

Prison Map is a great resource for anyone who is interested in the geography of incarceration. The website shows the satellite images of around 700 U.S. prisons (which is about 14% of the total number of prisons). It would be interesting to analyse the images to see how many of the prison buildings were influenced by Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon designs.

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