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The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, 8 July 1889
The Whipping of Prisoner Burr.
The Attorney-General has obtained through the Sheriff (Mr. Bernard Shaw) a report from Mr. Alf. Jones, Governor of the Launceston Gaol upon the whipping administered to Charles Burr, a prisoner sentenced at the last Criminal Sittings held in Launceston. The sentence pronounced by Mr. Justice Dodds on that occasion was imprisonment for five years and two whippings with a cane, 15 lashes on the day following the sentence, and 15 in six months. Mr. Jones' report was as follows:--
"Penal Establishment, Launceston,
"Sir, -- I have the honour to inform you that on Friday last, the 28th inst., the Visiting Justices made an official visit to this establishment, and I took advantage of their visit to bring before them the prisoner Burr, who was ordered to receive a whipping at the last sittings of the Supreme Court at Launceston. The Justices examined the prisoner, and found the marks of the whipping still distinctly visible upon his body, and on my examining him this morning the marks are still there. -- I have, etc., A. Jones, Superintendent. The Sheriff, Hobart."
The Sheriff reports to the Attorney-General as follows:--
"The several writers in the newspapers, whose remarks attracted the attention of His Honor the Judge, and led to this inquiry, appear to me to have misapprehended the nature of this portion of the sentence, and the spirit and intention of the Act under which it was ordered. It was pointed out by some that the whipping was not more severe than that which a schoolboy would sometimes receive at the hands of his master (which is really the kind of punishment contemplated by the Act), and others seem to think that the punishment ought to have been administered upon the prisoner's back with a "cat-o'-nine-tails," after the fashion in which men were flagellated in days gone by. The Act under which the sentence of whipping was passed is called the Juvenile Offenders Act, and is applicable only to boys and youths under 19 years of age, and provides that the instrument used for whipping (which is the only term used, and which bears a very different signification from the terms 'flogging' and 'flagellating') should be a 'rod of twigs,' a 'cane,' or a 'leathern strap.' The maximum number' of strokes is 15. Burr, whose age is 16½ years, was sentenced to receive 15 strokes with a cane, and they were inflicted 'in the presence of the Gaoler of the Gaol' on June 14, on his bare buttocks he having been tied up for the purpose. The cane used was selected by the Gaoler after several had been rejected as too light, and measures 3½ft. in length and 1½in. in circumference. I believe the force of the strokes was as great as the law and the sentence under it contemplated, and their severity is testified by the marks which it is shown by the enclosed report of Mr. Superintendent Jones, have been conspicuously visible on Burr's body up to the present moment. -- I have, etc., BERNARD SHAW. Sheriff."
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