Convict(ed) Women—Then and Now: Lessons of History for Today


This paper explores the lives of convict women transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in the 1800’s, with the aim to better understand the process of desistance and reintegration for contemporary female offenders. Through an analysis of the penal systems which operated during the era of transportation, this research draws on historiography to highlight the importance of understanding the past in order to inform the future. This critical reflection on the history-criminology nexus reveals the impact that societal attitudes and social context have on criminal justice practice and policy, and ultimately an ex-offender’s chances of becoming a valued member of their community. Select transcripts of the lives of 1800’s convicts are used to humanise the statistics; statistics which suggest shared experiences of trauma across both cohorts of women despite 175 years of separation between them.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2023-03-01
Pages:80 to 90
Section:Special Issue: Historical Criminology
Fetching Scopus statistics
Fetching Web of Science statistics
How to Cite
Smith, J. and White, R. (2023) “Convict(ed) Women—Then and Now: Lessons of History for Today”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 12(1), pp. 80-90. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2765.

Author Biographies

University of Tasmania

Jessica Smith works as a probation officer with Community Corrections Tasmania and has an Honours degree in Criminology from the University of Tasmania.

University of Tasmania

Rob White is emeritus distinguished professor of criminology at the University of Tasmania.