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Convict

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(Redirected from Convicts)

A convict, after conviction, generally becomes some sort of prisoner. Persons convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences do not usually bear the disparagement of the label "convict".

A particular use of the term in the English-speaking world is to refer to the huge numbers of petty criminals which clogged British gaols in the 18th and early 19th century. Initially many were sent to the American colonies as cheap labour, but the War of Independence brought that solution to an end.

Alternatives were investigated and the newly discovered and mapped East Coast of New Holland was proposed. This area had been examined in detail by James Cook during his expedition to the South Pacific in 1770. The term 'Australia' was first used by Matthew Flinders about 1800, derived from the ancient mythological reference to 'Terra Australis', the Great South Land.

The first Australian colony, New South Wales was founded largely as a British penal colony in 1788. British and Irish convicts and ex-convicts, became an important class in Australian society, because they were the most significant source of labour until the mid-19th century.

Not all Australian settlements were official penal colonies and many were established by free settlers, looking for opportunities.

If a convict was well behaved, the convict could be given a Ticket of Leave granting some freedom. At the end of the Convict's sentence the convict was issued with a Certificate of Freedom.

Convicts that were misbehaved, however, were often sent to a place of secondary punishment like Port Arthur where they would suffer additional punishment and solitary confinement.

As the colonies became more oriented towards a free society, and representative government was granted, the "transportation" of convicts was gradually phased out from 1840, ending (in Western Australia) in 1868.

In Australia, convicts have come to be key figures of social and cultural mythology and historiography.

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See Also

Penal transportation

ja:服役囚

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