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Beyond the Seas: Eighteenth-Century Convict Transportation and the Widening Net of Penal Sanctions


Convict transportation is an important, and under-explored, link in the evolution of punishment, and can illuminate the ways that states transform their capacities to exercise penal power. This dissertation argues that eighteenth-century North American convict transportation dramatically "widened the net" of penal sanctions. The increased penal capacity of the state was made possible by the combination of delegation to commercial actors and the increasing involvement of the national government in the financial, political and regulatory aspects of the administration of transportation. Transportation, unlike imprisonment at hard labor, was not seen as violating traditional English liberties because it "widened the net" without creating new state structures and practices, and it drew on the accepted logic of governing the poor through labor.

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