A visit to Bodmin Jail prompts me to wonder about “Free Choice”.
Punishment As Entertainment
I have an erie fascination with jails.
I love to visit Alcatraz and no matter how many times I visit, I’m always interested in returning. It appears this macabre interest is not unique to me since Alcatraz has over a million visitors a year.
So I was drawn to visit Bodmin Jail, a place about which I knew absolutely nothing. Advertised as a “Spooky All Weather Family Attraction”, it seemed to imply it was somewhere to take children on a rainy day. A place where heinous crimes and violent punishments could provide entertainment for a few hours.
In fact what we found was an exhibit that showed us the enduring and the changing.
The enduring factor was the nature of major crimes, murder, violence and theft. Heinous crimes, like mothers murdering their children, occurred 200 years ago just as they occur today.
The changing factor was society’s attitude to crime and punishment. Today if you set fire to someone’s haystack I’m guessing that you would get a prison term. Two hundred years ago you could be hanged. Attitudes have undergone a radical shift.
To find out more about the jail go to part 2.