Convict


Convict

A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison",[1] sometimes referred to in slang as simply a "con".[2] Convicts are often called prisoners or inmates. Persons convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences often are not termed "convicts". Ex-convict (or short: ex-con) is a common way of referring to a person who has been released from prison.


The legal label of "ex-convict" has much wider lifelong implications, so the person may suffer long-term handicaps and social stigma, including restricting access to certain categories of employment. In the Australian context, the Federal government generally will not employ an ex-convict, but some other state organizations may or may not have a time limit restricting employment.

Contents

Historical usage

The particular use of the term "convict" in the English-speaking world was to describe the huge numbers of criminals, both male and female, who clogged British gaols in the 18th and early 19th century. Their crimes would today be regarded as petty misdemeanours (stealing small items or food), or are no longer in the criminal code (such as being in debt). Most of the punishments at this time were severe, with the death penalty applied for fairly minor crimes. However, this ultimate sentence was often commuted to a lesser one, commonly for transportation (for 7 or 14 years, or for life) to the "colonies". Thus, in the British context, the term "convict" has come to refer in particular to those criminals transported overseas.

Initially many British convicts were sent to the American colonies, such as the Province of Georgia, as cheap labour, from 1733 until the War of Independence brought that solution to an end.

The British Government then looked to the newly discovered east coast of Australia to use as a penal colony. Convicts were transported to Australia in 1787, arriving in Botany Bay, then Sydney Cove, in January 1788. From the very start of European settlement convicts were used as indentured labourers in five out of the six colonies. Many were used on public works, but a significant number were "assigned" to private individuals as domestic servants, rural workers, etc. Transportation was progressively abolished from 1853, eventually ceasing altogether in 1868.

In Australia, convicts have come to be key figures of cultural mythology and historiography. Many became prominent business people and respected citizens, and some prominent families in present day Australian society can trace their origins to convict ancestors who rose above their humble origins. However, during the transportation era and for many years after, previous convicts and their descendants tended to hide their former criminal background, sometimes resulting in distorted or completely missing family history. Extensive and comprehensive records kept on every individual are now able to fill in the gaps and, in fact, many family historians can find out more about their convict ancestors than they can about those who arrived in Australia as free settlers.

British convicts were also sent to Canada and India. France also sent convicts to French Guiana and New Caledonia. Russian criminals who were shipped to Siberia can arguably be regarded as convicts.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, p. 311 (2d Coll. Ed. 1978).
  2. ^ Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, p. 292 (2d Coll. Ed. 1978).

External links


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  • convict — con·vict 1 /kən vikt/ vt [Latin convictus past participle of convincere to find guilty, prove, from com with, together + vincer to conquer]: to find guilty of a criminal offense was convict ed of fraud compare acquit con·vict 2 / kän ˌvikt/ …   Law dictionary

  • Convict 99 — Directed by Marcel Varnel Produced by Edward Black …   Wikipedia

  • Convict 13 — Theatrical poster for Convict 13 (1920) Directed by Edward F. Cline Buster Keaton …   Wikipedia

  • convict — [ kɔ̃vikt ] n. m. • 1796; mot angl., lat. convictus « convaincu d un crime » ♦ Criminel emprisonné ou déporté, en droit anglais. Les premiers colons d Australie furent des convicts. ● convict nom masculin (anglais convict) Dans les pays anglo… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Convict — Con*vict (k[o^]n*v[i^]kt ), p. a. [L. convictus, p. p. of convincere to convict, prove. See {Convice}.] Proved or found guilty; convicted. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] Convict by flight, and rebel to all law. Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Convict — Con*vict (k[o^]n*v[i^]kt ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Convicted}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Convicting}.] 1. To prove or find guilty of an offense or crime charged; to pronounce guilty, as by legal decision, or by one s conscience. [1913 Webster] He [Baxter] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • convict — convíct, convícte, s.n. (înv.) internat, pension; alumnat, cămin (pentru elevi). Trimis de blaurb, 23.04.2006. Sursa: DAR  convíct ( te), s.n. – Internat, pension de elevi. lat. convictus, germ. Konvikt (sec. XIX). În Trans. înv …   Dicționar Român

  • convict — [n] criminal captive, con, culprit, felon, jailbird*, long termer*, loser*, malefactor, prisoner, repeater*; concept 412 Ant. victim convict [v] find guilty adjudge, attaint, bring to justice, condemn, declare guilty, doom, frame, imprison, pass… …   New thesaurus

  • Convict — Con vict (k[o^]n v[i^]kt), n. 1. A person proved guilty of a crime alleged against him; one legally convicted or sentenced to punishment for some crime. [1913 Webster] 2. A criminal sentenced to penal servitude. Syn: Malefactor; culprit; felon;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Convict — (v. lat.), 1) das Zusammenleben, so auf katholischen Universitäten die Anstalt, wo die Theologie Studirenden zusammenwohnen; 2) (Convictorium), auf manchen Universitäten das gemeinschaftliche Speisen der mit dem bezüglichen Beneficium begnadeten… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Convict — Convict, (lat. convictus), gemeinschaftliches Leben, Institute an Universitäten, wo unbemittelte Studierende umsonst oder gegen geringe Vergütung Kost, zum Theil auch Wohnung erhalten; klösterliche Institute für Studierende der Theologie, in… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon