The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the former British Empire and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.(October 2015)
A ticket of leave was a document of parole issued to convicts who had shown they could now be trusted with some freedoms. Originally the ticket was issued in Britain and later adapted by the United States, Canada, and Ireland.
The ticket of leave system was first introduced by Governor Philip Gidley King in 1801. Its principal aim was to reduce the burden on the fledgling colonial government of providing food from the government's limited stores to the convicts who were being transported from the United Kingdom to Australia and its colonies of New South Wales and Tasmania. Convicts who seemed able to support themselves were awarded a ticket of leave. Before too long, tickets began to be given as a reward for good behaviour, which permitted the holders to seek employment within a specified district but not to leave it without the permission of the government or the district's resident magistrate. Each change of employer or district was recorded on the ticket.
Originally, the ticket of leave was given without any relation to the period of the sentence a convict had already served. Some "gentlemen convicts" were issued with tickets on their arrival in the colony. In 1811, the need to first officiate some time in servitude was established, and in 1821, Governor Brisbane introduced regulations specifying the lengths of sentences that had to be served before a convict could be considered for a ticket: four years for a seven-year sentence, six to eight years for a 14-year sentence, and 10 to 12 years for those with a life sentence. Once the full original sentence had been served, a "certificate of freedom" would be issued upon application. If a life sentence had been given, then the convict could get a ticket to leave and/or conditional or full pardon.
Holders of a ticket of leave were permitted to marry or to bring their families from Britain and to acquire property, but they were not permitted to carry firearms or to board a ship. Convicts who observed the conditions of the ticket of leave until the completion of one half of their sentence were entitled to a conditional pardon, which removed all restrictions except a ban on leaving the colony. Convicts who did not observe the conditions of their ticket could be arrested without warrant, tried without recourse to the Supreme Court and have their property forfeited. The ticket of leave had to be renewed annually, and those with one had to attend muster and church services.
The ticket itself was a highly-detailed document, listing the place and year the convict was tried, the name of the ship in which he or she was transported and the length of the sentence. There was also a complete physical description of the convict, along with year of birth, former occupation and "native place".
A ticket had two components. The "ticket proper" was issued to the person named, and it was mandatory for the person to carry that document on their person at all times. The second component was the "butt", which was the official copy and was kept on file by the government. Tickets proper are now quite rare, as they were in constant use by the holder. The butts are still retained in archival records and are available for researchers.
According to Alexander Maconochie, tickets of leave could be suspended in summary fashion for the most "trifling irregularities", and a "very large proportion" of ticket-of-leave holders were returned to government work as a result.
In the Second World War, the "ticket of leave" was a colloquial name given to the papers allowing a soldier to take leave from active service.
On 11 August 1899, An Act to Provide for the Conditional Liberation of Convicts, the Ticket of Leave Act, was enacted by the Canadian Parliament.
The Canadian Ticket of Leave Act was based almost word for word on the British legislation. There was no reference in the text to the purpose of conditional release, but ticket of leave was generally understood to be a form of pardon.
In the beginning, the Governor General granted paroles on the advice of Cabinet as a whole. The act was later amended so that the power to advise the Governor General was limited to the Minister of Justice. That was a significant departure from traditional practice in the use of executive clemency and was an attempt to separate parole decisions from politics. Even so, because conditional release was still in the hands of an elected minister, public opinion would still have a strong and sometimes questionable influence on policy.
In the early 20th century, Canada was sparsely settled. Keeping track of men on tickets of leave was difficult, and the authorities relied on parolees to report every month to the police. That had its drawbacks, and when the Salvation Army offered to take over parole supervision in some places, the Department of Justice was glad to accept. Salvation Army officers acted as Dominion Parole Officers until the position was abolished in 1931.
On 7 March 1939, Bill C-34 was passed, revising the Penitentiary Act and creating an administrative board of three.
Walter Crofton administered the Irish ticket of leave system.
Life imprisonment is any sentence of imprisonment for a crime under which convicted criminals are to remain in prison for the rest of their lives or indefinitely until pardoned, paroled, or commuted to a fixed term. Crimes that warrant life imprisonment are usually violent and/or dangerous. Examples of crimes that result in life sentences are murder, torture, terrorism, child abuse resulting in death, rape, espionage, treason, drug trafficking, drug possession, human trafficking, severe fraud and financial crimes, aggravated criminal damage, arson, kidnapping, burglary, and robbery, piracy, aircraft hijacking, and genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, severe cases of child pornography, or any three felonies in the case of a three-strikes law.
Penal transportation was the relocation of convicted criminals, or other persons regarded as undesirable, to a distant place, often a colony, for a specified term; later, specifically established penal colonies became their destination. While the prisoners may have been released once the sentences were served, they generally did not have the resources to return home.
A pardon is a government decision to allow a person to be relieved of some or all of the legal consequences resulting from a criminal conviction. A pardon may be granted before or after conviction for the crime, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction.
Parole is a form of early release of a prison inmate where the prisoner agrees to abide by behavioral conditions, including checking-in with their designated parole officers, or else they may be rearrested and returned to prison.
The Correctional Service of Canada, also known as Correctional Service Canada or Corrections Canada, is the Canadian federal government agency responsible for the incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted criminal offenders sentenced to two years or more. The agency has its headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario.
Freedom of movement, mobility rights, or the right to travel is a human rights concept encompassing the right of individuals to travel from place to place within the territory of a country, and to leave the country and return to it. The right includes not only visiting places, but changing the place where the individual resides or works.
Jørgen Jørgensen was a Danish adventurer during the Age of Revolution. During the action of 2 March 1808, his ship was captured by the British. In 1809 he sailed to Iceland, declared the country independent from Denmark–Norway and pronounced himself its ruler. He intended to found a new republic, following the examples of the United States and the French First Republic. He was also a prolific writer of letters, papers, pamphlets and newspaper articles covering a wide variety of subjects, and for a period was an associate of the famous botanists Joseph Banks and William Jackson Hooker. He left over a hundred written autographs and drawings, most of which are collected in the British Library. Marcus Clarke referred to Jørgensen as "a singularly accomplished fortune wooer—one of the most interesting human comets recorded in history".
In Canada, England, and Wales, certain convicted persons may be designated as dangerous offenders and subject to a longer, or indefinite, term of imprisonment in order to protect the public. Other countries, including Denmark and parts of the United States have similar provisions of law.
A certificate of freedom was a government issued document given to a convict in one of the Australian penal colonies at the end of the convict's sentence. That stated that the ex-convict had been restored "to all the rights and privileges of free subjects", effectively now a free person, and could seek out employment or leave the colony.
In the English and British tradition, the royal prerogative of mercy is one of the historic royal prerogatives of the British monarch, by which they can grant pardons to convicted persons. The royal prerogative of mercy was originally used to permit the monarch to withdraw, or provide alternatives to death sentences; the alternative of penal transportation to "partes abroade" was used since at least 1617. It is now used to change any sentence or penalty. A royal pardon does not overturn a conviction.
An emancipist was a convict sentenced and transported under the convict system to Australia, who had been given a conditional or absolute pardon. The term was also used to refer to those convicts whose sentences had expired, and might sometimes be used of free settlers who supported full civil rights for emancipated convicts.
The convict era of Western Australia was the period during which Western Australia was a penal colony of the British Empire. Although it received small numbers of juvenile offenders from 1842, it was not formally constituted as a penal colony until 1849. Between 1850 and 1868, 9,721 convicts were transported to Western Australia on 43 convict ship voyages. Transportation ceased in 1868, but it was many years until the colony ceased to have any convicts in its care.
In England and Wales, life imprisonment is a sentence that lasts until the death of the prisoner, although in most cases the prisoner will be eligible for early release after a minimum term set by the judge. In exceptional cases a judge may impose a "whole life order", meaning that the offender is never considered for parole, although they may still be released on compassionate grounds at the discretion of the Home Secretary. Whole life orders are usually imposed for aggravated murder, and can only be imposed where the offender was at least 21 years old at the time of the offence being committed.
Between 1788 and 1868, about 162,000 convicts were transported from Great Britain and Ireland to various penal colonies in Australia.
William Chopin was a convict transported to Western Australia. After gaining his Ticket of leave he worked as a chemist and later as a provider illicit abortions.
The Parole Board of Canada is the Canadian government agency that is responsible for reviewing and issuing parole and criminal pardons in Canada. It operates under the auspices of Public Safety Canada.
In the United States, life imprisonment is amongst the most severe punishments provided by law, depending on the state, and second only to the death penalty. According to a 2013 study, 1 of every 20,000 inhabitants of the U.S. were imprisoned for life as of 2012. Many U.S. states can release a convict on parole after a decade or more has passed, but in California, people sentenced to life imprisonment can normally apply for parole after seven years. Florida leads the country with nearly one quarter of its LWOP prisoners, more than California, New York and Texas combined. The laws in the United States categorize life sentences as "determinate life sentences" or "indeterminate life sentences," the latter indicating the possibility of an abridged sentence, usually through the process of parole. For example, sentences of "15 years to life," "25 years to life," or "life with mercy" are called "indeterminate life sentences", while a sentence of "life without the possibility of parole" or "life with no mercy" is called a "determinate life sentence". The potential for parole is not assured but discretionary, making it an indeterminate sentence. Even if a sentence explicitly denies the possibility of parole, government officials may have the power to grant an amnesty to reprieve, or to commute a sentence to time served.
Robert Sidaway, a convict of the First Fleet, was transported to Australia for stealing in 1788. Robert is known for being baker for the British Marines of Sydney and opening the first theatre in Sydney in 1796.
Life imprisonment in Canada is a criminal sentence for certain offences that lasts for the offender’s life. Parole is possible, but even if paroled, the offender remains under the supervision of Corrections Canada for their lifetime, and can be returned to prison for parole violations.