Biography - Alexander Maconochie - Australian Biographical Dictionary (2023)

Aleksander Maconochie

Michael Maconochie

Alexander Maconochie (1787–1860), naval officer, geographer and penal reformer, was born on 11 February 1787 in Edinburgh, the son of Alexander M'Konochie (the son adopted the current spelling in 1832), who was a legal representative and in 1791 Adam Smith at the Customs Board of Scotland.

Brought up by a relative, Allan Maconochi, Lord Meadowbank, he received a law degree, but joined the navy as a first class volunteer in 1803 and became a cadet in 1804. He took part in active service during the Napoleonic Wars, and by 1810 was a lieutenant in the brigGrasshopperwhen she ran aground and surrendered to the Dutch. Handed over to the French, Maconochie was held as a prisoner of war in Verdun until Napoleon's abdication in 1814. He returned to the navy and took an active part in the war against the United States, capturing Washington and attacking New Orleans. After commanding two ships as lieutenant commander, he was paid in 1815 and placed on the reserve list. In 1855 he retired from the navy with the rank of captain. In the years 1815-1828 he lived in Edinburgh, where in 1822 he married Mary Hutton-Browne. Seven children were born to this union, of whom two girls and four boys survived.

Maconochie did not visit the Pacific but became interested in its lands and published in 1818A summary of the existing statistics and trade of the main coasts of the Pacific Ocean, etc.(London). Around 1828, he and his family settled in London. He was one of the founders and first secretary of the Royal Geographical Society in 1830, and in 1833 he became the first professor of geography at the University of London. In 1836, as private secretary to his friend, the lieutenant governorSir John FranklinMaconochie left England for Hobart Town.

This appointment was intended to lead to a more important position in the colony's administration, but the plan failed. He soon came into conflict withJuan Montagu. Maconochie wrote oneReport on the state of prison discipline in Van Diemen's Land... (London, 1838), at the request of the English Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline and with the consent of the British authorities. It was sent by Franklin (who knew it was a condemnation of the system) to the Colonial Office, which handed it over to the Home Office. With accompanying papers, it was published as a parliamentary document and was used by the Molesworth Transport Committee (1837-1838). There is no excuse for criticizing Maconochi for publishing this report, but the storm he caused in Hobart left Franklin with no choice but to fire him. Maconochie claimed then and many times later that he had come to Van Diemen's Land with no prejudice against the convict system and no knowledge of penological theories. This was true, but although he seems to have forgotten it, it is also true that in his 1818 workoverview, made several proposals for "criminology" in a review of the New South Wales penal colony. While some of these conflicted with the views he had been espousing since 1837, two always remained at the center of his proposals: punishment should not be interpreted as vindictive but directed at the correction of the convict, and the punishment of the convict must be indefinite, with release not conditional from the passage of time, but from his own diligence and efforts during his stay in prison. R. Gerard Ward considers this discussionoverviewbarely enough to disprove Maconochi's claim that he "didn't study the subject of punishment before coming to Van Diemen's Land."

At the suggestion of the Molesworth Committee, Maconochie was appointed Superintendent of the Penal Colony on Norfolk Island and took up his duties in March 1840. Summoned by the Colonial Office, he left the island in February 1844. During this period he formulated and adapted most of the principles on which modern penology is based. Contrary to popular belief, his reign was peaceful; during an unexpected visit to the island in March 1843, the governorSir George'a Gippsastated that "good order will reign everywhere" (Historical Records of Australia, series 1, volume 22, p. 617). Occasionally, two major events take place against Maconochie; one, an attempt by the convicts to seize the brigGovernor Philipin June 1842, resulting in six deaths and four executions, it was due to no fault on his part, but to the negligence of the ship's managers; and the second, a mutiny that led to the execution of thirteen convicts, occurred in July 1846, more than two years after he had relinquished his command. His claims that the high percentage of convicts he released from the island did not re-offend appear to be warranted.

Maconochi's views on "forensic science" were based on the belief that cruelty degrades both the victim and the society it inflicts, and that punishment for a crime should not be vindictive, but rather is designed to increase the prisoner's willingness and ability to respect the social constraint he takes , strengthen. Imprisonment sentences must consist of community service, not time penalties; Instead of being sentenced to a specific term of imprisonment, the offender must be sentenced to imprisonment until a demonstrable period of service has been completed, which should be measured by the number of "honour awards" he has earned, using a scoring scale designed to encourage habits of industriousness and frugality . Judgment must take place in successive stages, one of which involved membership in a task force where each was responsible for the behavior of the others. Cruel punishment and degrading conditions must not be used, and convicts must not be deprived of their self-esteem. Although his proposals were widely criticized, they were well received.James' Secret HouseWGeorge Washington Walker, i z(Sr.) Alfred Stefan.

Maconochie returned to England in 1844, but although it was officially recognized that the move was in no way detrimental to his character (HRA(1), vol. 22, 691), there was no desire in the Colonial Office to hire him to take over.Charles DickensHe thought his system through carefully and recommended it to Angela Burdett-Coutts, even though she was wrong when she said (E. Johnson, ed.,Cartas de Charles Dickens i Angela Burdett-Coutts, 103) that Maconochie was appointed in 1847 to carry out his own proposal to use convict labor to build Weymouth harbour. Maconochie explained his theories in a number of pamphlets he published in 1846Crime and Punishment, a Mark system designed to combine punishment with punishment and amplify its effect, but its effect is severewhich had a huge impact on the development of penology.

In 1849, through the good offices of his friend Matthew Davenport Hill, QC, Birmingham Recorder, he became Governor of the new Birmingham Gaol. He was unjustly released in 1851, and in 1854 a royal commission, appointed to commit the suicide of three young prisoners after his release, sharply criticized his successor, Lieutenant Austin, and while crediting Maconochie with humanity and kindness, criticized him for taking refuge. to an illegal punishment. The events leading up to the Royal Commission are the subject of Charles Reade's novel TheIt's never too late to recover(1856), in which Maconochie briefly appears as "Captain O'Connor". He suffered from serious illness after his release, but continued to campaign for penal reform despite ill health until his death in Morden, Surrey, on 25 October 1860.

Maconochie was a pioneer of penal reform and met the fate of a man ahead of his time. His concepts and many practical measures now form the basis of Western penal systems and have been largely adopted inStatement of Principlesin Cincinnati in the United States of America in 1870, covering the foundations of modern penology. His contributions as a geographer before 1836, according to R. Gerard Ward, were "far superior to those of most of his contemporaries."


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