Box 124 contains manuscripts pertaining to Bentham's panopticon prison scheme, dating from late 1793 to early 1794.
During August 1793, it became clear that a new Penitentiary Act would need to be introduced before Parliament to allow the building of a panopticon prison. From October 1793 to February, Bentham occupied much of his time drafting a piece of legislation to meet this need, generally referred to as the Panopticon Bill.
As Janet Semple describes in her Bentham's Prison (pp.166-8), in the spring of 1794 there were 'three possible panopticon statutes ... the draft Act that eventually became law later that year; and Bentham's own two bills, a short bill consisting of only three sections and considerably longer bill starting with the clauses of his first bill but continuing with further details'. The 1794 Penitentiary Act is often assumed to have been of Bentham's design, but as Semple continues, 'Bentham at first hoped his original long bill would be enacted; he then truncated it, taking the first three sections to form a short bill', but 'this too was jettisoned and replaced by the government measure'. As Bentham himself recalled, 'I drew a bill, short, compact, and as I thought, complete. But the bill so drawn was rejected with ignominy'.
These manuscripts have never before been published, in which Bentham demonstrates a great deal of concern with discharged prisoners, the security of society, bureaucracy, and the administration of welfare. This is an extremely exciting opportunity to explore what Semple further calls 'the final flowering of [Bentham's] prison scheme and show more clearly than his published writings, first why the panopticon engrossed so much of his life and thought, and secondly that his poor-law proposals and the National Charity Company were not just another application of his brother [Samuel's] device of an inspection house but arose directly from the panopticon penitentiary.'
The material is arranged as follows:
JB/124/001/001 JB/124/001/002 JB/124/019/003 JB/124/029/001 JB/124/078/001 JB/124/092/001 JB/124/093/001 JB/124/093/002 JB/124/094/001 JB/124/094/002 JB/124/095/001 JB/124/095/002 JB/124/096/002 JB/124/097/001 JB/124/098/001 JB/124/098/002 JB/124/099/001 JB/124/099/002 JB/124/125/002 JB/124/162/003
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