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Reformatory CP - October 1951

Corpun file 26287 at

Launceston Examiner, Tasmania, 31 October 1951, p.3

Reports No Floggings, Confinement at Ashley Home


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USE OF the word "floggings" in connection with Ashley Boys' Home was a gross distortion of facts, and solitary confinement, as generally understood, was not practised.

THIS is stated by the Public Service Commissioner (Mr. B. J. Thompson) in his departmental report on allegations of incidents at the home.

Mr. Thompson said he had confined his enquiry to these two specific subjects, but despite the wide publicity given, there was a very poor response from the public to the invitation to give evidence.

Only one witness came from Launceston, and Mr. D.H.C. Klein, who had made general allegations, and the Rev. K.B. Skegg, of the Ministers' Fraternal, had come from Deloraine, apart from the superintendent and members of the staff at Ashley Home.

Neither of the Deloraine witnesses had given any concrete evidence of flogging, and one of them, Mr. Klein, had stated that floggings did not take place.

Mr. J.E. Pedley, Deloraine, who had made such allegations, had not come forward to give evidence, although invited to do so.

It was true, however, that the boys were caned, continued Mr. Thompson, the maximum corporal punishment being six strokes across the buttocks where they were less likely to cause injury than across the hands.

This punishment was administered with an ordinary cane, only after an investigation by the superintendent, and in the presence of an other officer to give added protection against excessive punishment. Such punishments were given only as a last resort.

During the last two years, canings had been given to only 38 boys, the majority of whom were 14 to 17 years old. Younger boys had received canings only after the third or fourth occasion of their absconding.

Used as Deterrent

"In the majority of cases," continued the report, "canings are given for absconding, smoking in bed, and gross immorality, and in the circumstances, I can find no fault at all with this form of punishment being used as a deterrent against these misdemeanours, because discipline in the home must be maintained."

During the whole of 1950, only 12 boys received the cane, and from April, 1950, to February, 1951, only two boys were caned, added the report.

Mr. Thompson said he was definitely of opinion that solitary confinement, as commonly known, was not practised. It was admitted that boys were confined to cubicles as a form of punishment for which no alternative method of correction was offered.


It might also be mentioned, concluded Mr. Thompson, that one Launceston mother had requested that her son be retained at Ashley because the general improvement in his health, his good clothing, and general bearing were indicative of the good treatment he was receiving, and the boy himself did not want to leave the home.

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