What is a penal colony?

The sentence may have some wondering what a prison colony is.


As per Merriam-Webster, a penal colony is a location where convicts are dispatched to reside.

However, they are more than a conventional jail or prison.

As stated on the History Hit website, penal colonies in the past “were established on diminutive, predominantly desolate or sparsely inhabited islands.”

They gained popularity during the early modern era and brought along a challenging existence for those imprisoned.

Background of penal settlements

The British introduced the Transportation Act in 1717, which allowed for the relocation of prisoners to the American colonies, where they were put up for auction to serve a seven-year sentence.

At that same time, France also dispatched its prisoners to colonies in Louisiana.

According to History Hit, numerous individuals in Australia were still considered as former prisoners. In the 19th century, Britain began sending prisoners to Australia, for instance, for minor offenses like stealing bread, and once their sentences were completed.

Decline of penal settlements

Many countries that used penal colonies for punishment have started to abandon those locations once they began to focus on a push for humane sentencing with a greater emphasis on rehabilitation over punishment.

Some previous correctional facilities are currently eerie tourist attractions, including Alcatraz, Robben Island in South Africa, and Green Island in Taiwan.

Russian correctional facilities, incarceration system

According to The Associated Press, approximately 520,000 inmates were held in the Russian prison system last year. Many of these prisons have evolved from the Soviet gulags, where prisoners worked in production facilities and slept in dorms, to collective colonies.

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In 2021, Valery Borschov, a previous member of the Russian Parliament who actively participated in a committee dedicated to the improvement of correctional facilities, informed The New York Times, “It can become intolerable. You find yourself in a spacious chamber, surrounded by 40 or 80 other individuals.”

The Times reported that the laborious tasks of mining and logging in Josef Stalin’s gulags had shifted to the sewing of military uniforms.

In 2021, Olga Romanova, the leader of an organization advocating for the rights of prisoners, stated to the AP that Russian President Vladimir Putin “desires to possess a menacing tool at his disposal. It is necessary to establish a location where everyone is apprehensive of visiting.”

According to the Times, out of Russia’s 692 correctional facilities, 684 were classified as penal colonies in 2021.

Machine X-ray revealed that at the time he saw the medical equipment, he said Kotov had to wait two months to find out if the rash he had turned out to be scabies. Kotov said he had to wait two months to have his rash examined. It was noted that medical care was slow, but they called the facilities “pretty good” as they had “more-or-less decent” food and were renovated. Konstantin Kotov, who served 18 months in a penal colony more than 50 miles away from Moscow, was part of an unauthorized protest.

Kotov also mentioned that the guards at his prison harassed inmates for minor infractions, and they did not greet or wear gloves in the cold weather.

In 2021, he informed the AP, “If you neglect to acknowledge an officer, you will remain incarcerated until the completion of your term. These reprimands serve to deprive you of the opportunity for parole, which is the utmost significance.”

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Russian patriotic leader Dmitry Demushkin informed RT that the physical burden is challenging for inmates, as reported by the AP.

Demushkin expressed, “According to the ‘activists,’ one must seek approval if they desire to scratch their nose, for instance, for any activity.” Demushkin stated, “There is no room for action. You must keep your arms on your knees, legs close together, and maintain a straight back. Alternatively, you can sit with your back straight, legs together, and arms on your knees, or you can stand for six to eight hours daily.” The confinement system is considerably more severe than physical assaults.

Activists are the fellow prisoners who collaborate with guards and provide information on the conduct of inmates.

©2022 Cox Media Group.

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