Utilitas 1 (2):226-241 (1989)

Bentham was an influential thinker with an ‘essentially practical mind’. His influence on British social and political reform, however, was indirect, coming largely after his death and largely through the work of his disciples. Bentham's own attempts to put his ideas directly into practice generally had little effect. He came closest to success in the area of penal policy, winning a contract from Pitt's government in the early 1790s to build and manage a penitentiary that was to be organized on the panopticon principle. Bentham saw the penitentiary as the spearhead of prison reform and as a means of effecting a change from transportation to imprisonment as a punishment for serious crime. While Bentham's use of the panopticon principle itself has attracted most attention in the literature, there was more to his scheme than this. The penitentiary proposals were worked out in great detail, they were a conscious application of his theory of punishment, and they were consistent with and an element of his all-embracing plan of social, political, and constitutional reform.
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820800000248
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