A Night in The Hong Kong Jail


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A ship was bought and equipped for this purpose in January In June, the convict hulk Royal Saxon was moored and the island declared a convict station. A month later, however, thirty-eight prisoners were thrown into the sea when a sampan transporting them to the hulk capsized: all were carried underwater by their chain and drowned.

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When the hulk was moored closer to the shore to avoid similar tragedies, a hundred dangerous convicts seized the opportunity to escape. The experience was so unsuccessful that the convict establishment was formally discontinued and merged with Victoria Gaol in October , one year before the completion of improvements to its buildings The perceived inability of the police to deal with a crime wave in , moreover, led to renewed demands for a return to the strong deterrent measures initially used by Caine in the early days of the colony In July , an ordinance was passed allowing for the branding and flogging of any person who returned to Hong Kong from deportation before the expiration of his sentence The Colonial Secretary in charge of administering the government until the arrival of Sir Richard MacDonnell in March also used his authority to pass a new ordinance giving courts the power to flog those convicted of assault with violence.

As the Colonial Office in London opposed discriminatory legislation, however, it was soon discovered that Europeans would also be liable to the whip: in one notorious case, John Thompson was sentenced to three years penal servitude and to be three times publicly whipped with the regulation instrument. In the words of James W. The records of the time unfortunately do not show the result of the petition, although the ordinance remained in force throughout the nineteenth century.

An inquest, for instance, was held on the body of a prisoner who had died in gaol from the effects of flogging in October In another case, three gaol wardens were charged two years later with manslaughter through the excessive flogging of an Indian prisoner: a unanimous verdict of not guilty was returned Where more than two floggings were ordered within six months, the second whipping could, at the discretion of the surgeon, be inflicted within the gaol on the buttocks instead of the back and shoulders From to 26 August , the date after which the rattan only was used, over prisoners were illegally flogged with the regulation cat, convicts sometimes being given a greater number of lashes than prescribed Branded criminals who returned to the colony were flogged and imprisoned.

While MacDonnell succeeded in reducing the number of prisoners, the Colonial Office expressed its apprehension over the unduly severe measures and ruled that non-British residents could only be banished if they were dangerous to the peace of the colony.

Sixty prisoners had been released by this system in , and few had returned He also disputed the view that branding might prevent a convict from finding work in China MacDonnell also circumvented a colonial ruling of and passed an ordinance which allowed a criminal to opt for branding and banishment The tattooing with Indian ink, according to his successor, was seldom resorted to but worked well After , a few dozen men were branded and deported each year until the practice virtually ceased in the total reached roughly prisoners, a minority in comparison to the much greater number of gaol sentences The committee recommended more use of the crank as well as the continued use of shot drill, oakum picking, stone carrying, and stone breaking for its deterrent effect on prisoners.

Colonial administrators often moved through a number of different countries and transmitted models and preferences from one place to another: Hennessy had served several years as governor of Labuan, the Gold Coast and the Windward Islands, apparently clashing with colonial communities by taking into account local predilections. Contrary to his predecessors, he made it an official policy to consult with the Chinese community, an approach which was profoundly resented by colonial administrators Soon after arriving on the island, he tackled the question of corporal punishment and ordered an investigation into the administration of the prison.

Contrary to his predecessors, he emphasised the need for reformation in the treatment of criminals. The report of the Gaol Committee, however, had clearly expressed its reluctance to even envisage reformation as a gaol of confinement. Hennessy singled out the example of a prisoner named Wong A Ling, sentenced to three months but branded and deported after only one month: as the acting Superintendent did not speak a word of Chinese, he wondered whether he could not have been mistaken in reporting that the prisoner was willing to be disfigured and marked as a thief for the rest of his life.

The forms which the prisoners were asked to sign, moreover, were in English which few could read Further evidence suggested that branded criminals gathered in the gambling haunts in the villages just beyond the boundary of Kowloon, some presumably committing the night robberies which had pestered the colony over the last years A system of repeated short sentences on old offenders was a bad system, Hennessy argued in front of the Legislative Council, as it created and cultivated a criminal class.

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Turnkeys, moreover, were not only unable to speak the language of the prisoners, having abandoned all hope to improve their moral condition, but were found guilty of drunkenness in the gaol and beating prisoners: Hennessy proposed to fill the vacancies created by dismissals with well-conducted warders who could speak Chinese as well as a number of native turnkeys Hennessy refused to allow any further deportations, making an exception in the case of two prisoners in who were dying: he sent them to the hospital instead.

He noted that many Europeans wanted a revival of the earlier days before his arrival when many prisoners were branded, flogged and deported A final report on deportation was compiled in , recommending that it should be confined to habitual offenders in addition, rather than as a substitution, of a custodial sentence In Singapore, for instance, a penal diet had been introduced in without due regard for the opposition of the colonial surgeon.


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In Hong Kong, medical knowledge indicated that Orientals differed from Europeans in their physiological responses to flogging: a slight blow could sometimes kill a native when it might not even injure a European. According to Dr Ayres, the Colonial Surgeon consulted by Hennessy, Chinese prisoners flogged with the cat had symptoms of congestion of the lungs, many ending up in the hospital spitting blood, while the scars on their backs remained for the rest of their lives He suggested that flogging be administered on the breech and not on the back, as ex-convicts would feel shame at the indelible gaol marks on that part of the body Hennessy reluctantly allowed a few cases of flogging after he assumed government in Hong Kong, although he recollected that not a single lash was applied in Singapore and Labuan during his four years there, while flogging had also ceased in the Bahamas Such opinions were widespread in Hong Kong.

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Charles May, First Police Magistrate, wrote in his report that corporal punishment was both fitting and needful to the treatment of Chinese criminals. A medical committee, appointed in to find out whether flogging on the back produced phthisis, failed to find sufficient evidence to uphold the conclusions offered in the report.

That flogging on the back not be inflicted on any person under eighteen years of age. He argued that the physical condition of the Chinese differed from Europeans, a physiological fact which was acknowledged by the Chinese government over a thousand years ago, as flogging never took place on the back because it would lead to injury to the viscera.

Hong Kong: Activist Joshua Wong freed from jail to join mass protest

Hennessy also invoked the existence of local ordinances which unequivocally prescribed the rattan and the desire of the home government to abolish the cat Speeches in support of the resolutions were summarised in the words of A. Thousands of marchers joined the rally in Kowloon on Saturday, while scores of retirees gathered outside police headquarters on Hong Kong Island. The majority of protesters wore masks over their mouths in defiance of a week-old ban that makes face coverings punishable by one year in jail when worn at rallies.

In Kowloon, a cohort of police wearing riot helmets and banging their plastic shields followed some distance behind, clearing roadblocks left by the march.

Demonstrators chanted a new slogan urging fellow residents to "resist" - and by evening time, many were chanting "see you tomorrow" - a sign that larger demonstrations may be planned for the remainder of the weekend. Hong Kong's protests started in opposition to a now-abandoned extradition bill but have widened in four months into a pro-democracy movement and anger at what they believe is China 's tightening grip on the semi-autonomous territory.


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  • Beijing denies the accusation. Al Jazeera's Adrian Brown, reporting from Hong Kong, said Saturday's marches drew smaller crowds and were peaceful as compared with a rally last weekend, which spiralled into a night of running battles between protesters and police. Large numbers of young protesters have regrouped on the same street they were expelled from by police just days earlier, with tear gas and rubber bullets. Sitting peacefully on Harcourt Road, black-clad protesters said they were considering staying for hours or even overnight on the usually busy street.

    Harcourt Road runs through the middle of Hong Kong's affluent Admiralty district, alongside the city's Legislative Council building.

    Thousands march in Hong Kong as petrol bombs thrown in metro

    It was one of the main sites of 's Occupy protests. The mood Sunday was completely different to earlier in the week, with a tiny almost invisible police presence and relaxed crowd, almost none of whom were wearing face coverings or helmets and other safety gear. Outside the central government offices a large crowd called for Carrie Lam to resign but even there the mood was far less hostile than Wednesday and no one was obviously equipped for renewed skirmishes with police. While the mood could change, Hong Kongers appear to have not only come out in great numbers, but shown they can do so completely peacefully.

    A slow shutter image shows thousands of people taking part in protests in Hong Kong on Sunday. Joshua Wong speaks to tens of thousands protesters outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, in September The Government understands that these views have been made out of love and care for Hong Kong.

    A Night in The Hong Kong Jail A Night in The Hong Kong Jail
    A Night in The Hong Kong Jail A Night in The Hong Kong Jail
    A Night in The Hong Kong Jail A Night in The Hong Kong Jail
    A Night in The Hong Kong Jail A Night in The Hong Kong Jail
    A Night in The Hong Kong Jail A Night in The Hong Kong Jail
    A Night in The Hong Kong Jail A Night in The Hong Kong Jail
    A Night in The Hong Kong Jail A Night in The Hong Kong Jail

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