4th Feb, 1855 a letter was sent to the Editor of the South Australian Register by a spectator to Corporeal Punishment.
He sent an appeal to have it abolished having been witness to a flogging and was disturbed at the brutality of it. He was not against punishment in general, just the barbaric 'torture' of flagellation.
"Mr Editor, this sort of thing belongs to the 17th Century, and is everywhere execrated. It is the means employed where Lynch Law and vengeance are used by an unorganised body in a newly founded colony"
He went on to point out "What strikes me as singular is that we are, very properly, not allowed to exercise cruelty towards a stubborn horse; and yet that the man who rewards another for imprinting long bloody furrows in the back of a human victim is countenanced by the leading members of a Christian community."
His criticism continued:
"No, No - this thing must not be suffered by this fair land, whose hills and dales have never echoed back (until lately) the groans and shrieks of humanity extorted by those who exult in destroying the muscular and nervous system of their fallen fellow man"
He finished with
"Corporeal torture cannot be deserved - it is revolting to man, accursed to God"
His thoughts fell on deaf ears as flagellation was to continue as a punishment for another 109 years at the Adelaide Gaol. In fact when the Beatles visited Adelaide, we were still giving prisoners the 'cat o' nine tails'. We finally stopped in 1964.
Written by Alison Oborn
© Adelaide Gaol Heritage
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Photo © Alison Oborn for Adelaide Gaol Heritage