The Bloody Code and Assorted Dodgers

The Ending of The Bloody Code

A gradually growing reluctance to use the death penalty in the eighteenth century (except for the most serious cases), combined with an increasing concern that those who received benefit of clergy were let off too lightly encouraged the development of alternative forms of punishment. The criminal law reforms of the nineteenth century, abolishing, as they did, the death penalty for many crimes, led in the same direction. As a result new types of punishments for felons, notably transportation and imprisonment, were created and eventually came to take on an ever growing role in the sentencing of criminals.

These new punishments reflect two trends in the evolution of strategies for punishment. First, there was a shift from physical punishments such as whipping, branding, and hanging to attempts to reform the defendant through transportation and imprisonment. And second, punishments became less public, as the spectacle of public hangings at Tyburn, the pillory, and public whipping through the streets was replaced by hanging outside and then inside Newgate, private whipping, transportation to foreign lands, and imprisonment.

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